THE Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe has started writing to telecoms operators whose services fall short of statutory standards.
This comes against the background where the quality of service, including call set up time (easy of connectivity), duration of uninterrupted calls and internet speeds have at times been and continue to be an issue for users of telecoms services.
In many instances and prior to Government introducing a law that specifically outlines quality of service standards, Potraz had no benchmark against which to hold operators, neither did consumers have basis, on which to hold MNO’s to account.
In terms of new regulations promulgated and adopted by Potraz last year, telecommunication service providers are compelled to observe minimum service quality and customer care standards in provision of services such as voice, internet and data connectivity, short message and multimedia message services.
Potraz director general Dr Gift Machengete said the industry regulator was now on high alert and monitoring the level of service quality and regularly notified any operator about service level and quality that does not meet standards. “We are monitoring them. In fact, we have started writing to operators; we know what quality of service standard is expected. We fine them if they do not comply. If for example a (base station is down), we give the operator time to address the problem.
“As such, operators are working on that (faults) to improve the quality of service. We are concerned with the quality of the service. We have to protect consumers. We are definitely concerned with the issues and have taken them to the operators so that they come good on the quality standards,” Dr Machengete said.
Dr Machengete said, as the industry regulator, Potraz was disturbed by the issue of shoddy service quality from some of the operators considering that in certain cases, despite a substandard or incomplete service, customers were still being billed.
He, however, pointed out that in some instances telecoms operators have responded to concerns raised by Potraz regarding their failure to comply with set parameters of quality service citing shortage of foreign currency to procure critical spares.
“The operators have sometimes come back to us saying they have challenges getting spares because of the foreign currency situation in the country; they say they have not been able to keep up (with requirements), but we continue to push them.”
The new regulations require mobile network service providers to ensure 99,99 percent service availability, service activation period of under 5 seconds, down time of below 1 hour, interconnection gateway route down and repair time of less than an hour, as the regulator of telecommunication services sets the bar higher.
The rules specify network connectivity success rate of equal or above 95 percent, call set up success rate to a valid number properly dialled to be above 95 percent.
Call completion rate, calls successfully setup, maintained and terminated normally by the calling or called party should be equal or exceed 80 percent while the rate of voice calls dropped calls should be restricted within the 2 percent band.