By Sorie Fofana.
When NATCOM (National Telecommunications Commission) organized a public dialogue forum between operators, consumers and civil society representatives at the Bintumani Hotel, it was agreed that, operators effect a slight increment in their tariffs subject to improvement in their networks within a period of four months.
The uncompromising Chairman of NATCOM, Momoh Konte made it abundantly clear at that meeting that, if operators fail to improve on their networks, he would order a reversal of the increment after the four months deadline.
Mr. Konte reaffirmed last Saturday at a public gathering in Bo that, his Commission would look at the raw data provided to them by quality of service monitors before arriving at any decision.
Even though the two biggest telecoms operators; Airtel and Africell continue to improve and expand on their networks, consumers continue to complain that, they are not getting enough value for money.
Over the past several weeks, Airtel have come under the spotlight of adverse public criticisms over their poor network, across the country.
The company has insisted that, they will continue to invest hugely in equipment that will lead to a sea change in their operations. They plan to establish thirty-three new sites across the country.
Africell, on the other hand, have also been talking about massive investments in replacing some of their equipment in order to improve their network across the country.
The fact of the matter is that, these companies have been doing their utmost best to ensure that, they do not miss the deadline set for them by NATCOM to improve on their networks.
We want to commend Subah Infosolutions for doing a very good job in the monitoring of the International Gateway System and by seriously clamping down on SIM Box fraud.
With time, Subah Infosolutions would be in a better position to curtail or even eradicate altogether SIM Box fraud in Sierra Leone.
A week ago, no less a person than His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma; at a meeting with the Parliamentary oversight committee on Information and Communications, NATCOM Commissioners, the Minister of Information and Communications and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development made the point that, the telecommunications sector possesses the potential to beef up the income of the state either through the payment of annual license fees or fines imposed on operators that violate the Telecommunications Act of 2006 as amended.
The head of state called on the NATCOM Chairman to ensure that, the Telecommunications Act 2006 as amended is fully implemented, without any fear or favor.
The bottomline is that, the Global Times will follow up on the issue of compliance on the part of the two biggest telecom operators and report its findings in the next two weeks.
We have deliberately decided not to mention Smart Mobile because the company is not doing well at all. They have shut down their only branch office on Wellington Street in Freetown because the company cannot afford to pay the yearly rent for the building.
Some of Smart Mobile staff members have even gone without salaries for three months now. And they are still counting!
Smart Mobile officials told the Global Times yesterday that they have identified new investors that will take over the company in September this year.
If it is discovered that, the operators have not done enough, to merit the increment that was agreed at the Bintumani Hotel based on improvement of their networks, the Global Times will be the first media institution to call for the reversal of the increment that was agreed upon almost four months ago.
We will continue to monitor the situation and report our findings to the nation in the next two weeks.
Watch this space!