No Compensation To Users Despite Telcos’ Fines - NCA

The National Communications Authority (NCA) says there will be no compensation for mobile phone users in spite of the GH¢34 million fine it imposed on the four telecos last Wednesday.

The telecom regulator told the Daily Graphic Thursday that it only gave directives for compensations when there were severe unplanned service outages.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic a day after the NCA slapped AirtelTigo, MTN, Vodafone and Glo with penalties because of poor quality of service (Qos) issues, the Director, Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Mrs Nana Defie Badu, said the sanctions imposed had to do with regulatory issues that did not qualify consumers for compensation.

She said Section 6 of the Electronic Communication Act, 2008 (Act 775) stipulated the conditions under which consumers were entitled to compensation.

“These include unplanned interruptions when the telcos fail to notify users about service interruptions. 

When we detect that there have been severe outages of service, the authority directs mobile network operators (MNOs) to compensate consumers.

She said the MNOs could also voluntarily compensate their customers if they failed to meet QoS benchmarks. 

In the past, the NCA used some of the fines to buy equipment for measuring QoS.

The NCA has in the past imposed similar fines in November 2011, July 2013 and September 2015.

The fine

All four telecommunication companies in the country will have to cough up more than GH¢34 million to the National Communications Authority (NCA) for providing poor services.

AirtelTigo, Glo, MTN and Vodafone have been penalised for their non-compliance with various quality of service (QoS) requirements.

A breakdown of the fines shows that while AirtelTigo is expected to pay GH¢11,635,000, Glo’s share of the penalty is GH¢4,460,000, while the country’s largest telecom company, MTN, has GH¢9,080,000 to pay, with Vodafone obligated to pay  GH¢8,890,000.

A statement issued by the NCA in Accra yesterday gave a 30-day ultimatum to the telcos to pay the fine.

According to the statement, if the four telcos failed to pay the fines within 30 days, the NCA would apply Section 83 (2) of the Electronic Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775).

 The section provides that “a person who fails to pay a fee, penalty or other levy payable to the NCA within the stipulated time is liable to pay the authority a fine of one-and-half per cent of the amount due for each month or part of a month after the stipulated time that the fee, penalty or other levy remained unpaid”.
QoS monitoring

 The NCA regularly undertakes QoS monitoring to determine the compliance of licences by mobile network operators and  ensure that consumers receive the quality service they have paid for.

The statement said in the first quarter of 2018, it undertook QoS monitoring of all mobile network operators (MNOs) in the Greater Accra, Eastern, Western and Northern regions and two districts in the Ashanti Region in phase one of a nationwide monitoring exercise.

Monitoring in other regions

The statement said the NCA was currently undertaking a second monitoring to re-evaluate the performance after the initial QoS monitoring for the remaining five (5) regions — Brong Ahafo, Volta, Upper East, Upper West and Central — and the remaining district capitals that were not tested in Q1 in the Ashanti Region.

“The NCA will continue to undertake its regulatory duties, with the consumer at heart.

 These punitive measures are intended to encourage the MNOs to adhere to the QoS parameters as set out in their licence conditions, which will in turnresult in an improved service experience for the consumer,” the statement said.

Telcos complaints 

While industry players maintain that challenges confronting the telecom industry, including the breaking of cables by contractors, stealing of cables, frequent power outages and high fees charged by landowners, account for the problems, that excuse does not appear to sit well with mobile phone users, as they call for stiffer punishment for telecom operators who flout the regulations.

According to the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications (GCT), the total official count for cable cuts for 2012 alone was 1,605, more than three times recorded cuts in 2011.

Records kept by operators showed that 75 per cent of the cuts happened during road construction, while the remaining were due to thefts of the copper used for the cables.