5 Telecommunications Companies Punished For Providing Poor Services

The five operating telecommunications companies (telcos) in the country have been slapped with a fine totalling GH�1.2 million by the National Communications Authority (NCA) for providing poor quality services to their clients. The move, which covers the third quarter of this year, forms part of the telecom regulator�s quest to sanction poor quality service delivery offered to clients of the telcos and also ensure that consumers have value for money. A report from the NCA sighted by the Daily Graphic said Airtel, the country�s fourth largest telecom operator, suffered the heaviest fine as it is expected to pay GH�350,000. The Indian owned Airtel, which has approximately 10 per cent of the market with a total customer base of two million as of the end of August, this year, experienced a lot of traffic channel congestion in Tamale, Upper East and Upper West, Sekondi/Takoradi and the Greater Accra Region. MTN, the country�s largest telecom company, and Expresso, the least patronised telco, were also fined GH�300,000 each. MTN, which maintained its lead as the country�s biggest mobile phone company with 9.8 million subscribers, as of the end of September, this year, was also fined for the same offence as Airtel. Its poor quality service was noticed in the Upper East and Upper West regions, Greater Accra and Brong Ahafo during the period under review. Expresso, which was recently Kasapa until a change of ownership in the company, continues to deteriorate as its subscriber base has dipped from 244,674 in January, to 206,606 in August, 2011. Vodafone, which also defaulted in its service quality in three regions; Western, Greater Accra and Brong Ahafo, was fined GH�150,000. Vodafone, which is in the third spot, controls 18.48 per cent of the market with 3.73 million subscribers. Its subscriber base for January was 2.81 million. The second largest operator, tiGO was fined the least of GH�100,000, having defaulted in the Western and the three northern regions. tiGO, operated by Millicom Ghana, also maintained its number two position having moved its subscriber base from 3.92 million in January to 4.2 million subscribers as of the end of August, to control 20.59 per cent of the telecoms market in the country. The action by the NCA, which is expected to be lauded by industry analysts and consumers alike, comes at a time when competition within the sector has reached its highest point ever. It is also an indictment on the telcos which continue to drum their so-called high quality service through every available platform at their disposal only to attract more customers, yet do very little to meet service standards. Many are those who have often complained about the frequent call drops, delays in call set-ups and call congestion. One subscriber who carries the lines of all the operators, Mr Godwill Amenyo, a welder, told the Daily Graphic he was compelled to use all the lines because he was unable to trust any of them. �I have three mobile phone sets, two of which take double Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards and the other, a single SIM card, so I carry three phones,�, he said. �I was full of joy when the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) was introduced because I thought I could move from the bad service providers to the good ones but after a while, I realised they were all a disappointment,� Mr Amenyo said. As part of the licence conditions of the operators, they are required to maintain a certain minimum quality of key service performance indicators. A highly placed source at the NCA told the Daily Graphic that �during the period under review, quality of service monitoring was conducted in such places as Cape Coast; Elmina; Winneba; Sekondi-Takoradi; Tarkwa; Prestea; Wa; Jirapa; Navrongo; and Tamale. The key performance indicators used in measuring the attainment of service quality were Call Setup Time; Call Congestion Rate and Call Drop Rate.