NATCOM goes tough on phone companies

National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), Siray A. Timbo

National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), Siray A. Timbo

By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)

The National Telecommunications Commission Sierra Leone (NATCOM) is considering taking tougher actions this year to address the growing problem of poor service delivery by GSM companies operating in the country.

According to NATCOM’s Director of Legal and Licenses, Ms Michala Mackay, the Commission will enforce all regulations relating to SIM card registration. It is the responsibility of mobile phone operators to ensure that all SIM cards sold to the public are registered. Ms Mackay says the ratio is one SIM per person, but in exceptional cases an adult can be allowed to buy a maximum of two more SIMs and that particular adult consumer will be held responsible for the additional SIMs.

She says a fine of Le400, 000 (slightly less than a hundred US dollars) will be levied for any unregistered SIM card sold to the public.

However, a lot of SIM hawkers are out there selling SIM cards without any form of registration or proper registration, says NATCOM’s Public Affairs Manager Mr. Abdul Kuyateh.

“This has to stop because it is against the law; and the consequences are devastating to the country in terms of security as well as economically,” Mr. Kuyateh tells AYV.

Furthermore, Ms Mackay says the Commission will suspend all promotions by telecoms operators through SMS to their subscribers until further notice. In addition, she says, telecoms operators will be held responsible for any SIM card found in impounded SIM boxes.

These considerations by NATCOM come amidst growing public outcry against poor service delivery by telecoms operators in the country. Consumers have been complaining over frequent call drops, breaks in conversation, post-dial delays, unnecessary promotions through SMS, and high tariffs among others.

According to Mr. Victor Findlay, NATCOM’s Director of Engineering and Technical Affairs, quality service is measured over a period of time and the Commission has carried out a number of consumer perception surveys (CPS), the results of which they have shared with telecoms operators.

“In some areas some operators are doing well, in others they are not so good,” says Findlay, adding that the CPS is an ongoing process. He says there are key performance indicators (KPI) in line with international standards that operators must meet, but notes that no telecoms company will be able to provide 100% quality service because there are always errors.

Findlay says 99% a consumer’s call should go through and such a call should continue for as long as the consumer desires, provided he/she has the units/credit. He says no technical problem on the part of the telecoms operator should stop your call. He also says 99% your network should be on regardless of whatever problem, and that your phone should be able to handover from one cell site to another, as you move from one place to another, without problem.

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