Thursday January 24 2013

Major telecom operators on spot over poor service quality

By Dorothy Nakaweesi

Mobile phone subscribers in Kampala, Mukono and Gulu towns experienced the worst quality of services, a Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) report shows.

Leading service providers, MTN, Airtel, Warid, Uganda Telecommunications Limited (UTL) and Orange were named in the communications regulator’s quality of service assessment report in line with its policy on service standards.

The poor services have hit telecom subscribers hardest, with some of them being fleeced without their knowledge. The report conducted in eight major towns attributed the major cause of poor service to vandalism.

Kasese town experienced better mobile phone services than its counterparts. The other towns were Jinja, Mbarara, Masaka and Mbale.

Conducted beween July and October 2012, the survey’s results compared to the previous year, 2011, were obtained from the performance trends for dropped and blocked call rates— parameters set out by UCC.

However, UCC did not include the success call rate measure.

Customers Daily Monitor spoke to expressed dissatisfaction about the quality of telecom service providers.

“There are times when I make a call and it just goes off. When I try again, I cannot get through,” a subscriber said.

Network outages
UCC says MTN and Airtel networks reported several incidents of network vandalism from January 2012 to date ,causing network outages in some towns.

UCC says: “The MTN outage reported that they realised 543 hours across the country between July and October. Of these, 183 hours were lost due to fibre cuts by unknown individuals while 132 hours of MTN service delivery were affected by road works,” the report explained.

Airtel reported isolated incidents of network outages which included vandalism in Kalisizo. Consequently, 19 sites in the area surrounding Masaka town were affected.

The operator also suffered a major outage in the eastern region due to maintenance of fibre Optic cables by UETCL.

“Vandalism in Ruhama affected the surrounding 40 sites, while fibre cuts in Kulambiro and Kazo due to road works caused outages in Kampala.

Responding to this survey, some operators said they have recorded improved services, save for the areas that are unstable, arguing that they are working on them.

Airtel Uganda spokesperson, Ms Pheona Wall, said: “We have been experiencing power outages and Diesel, which is the alternative has been expensive. However, services have improved after we installed 3.75G.”

Warid’s Chief Commercial Officer, Mr Shailendra Naidu, said: “Our services have improved tremendously ever since this survey was done. We have even added 120 sites, making them 610.”