These are thoughts that came to me as I watched my phone’s network bars drop and I couldn’t make an important call.
Network service by all 3 mobile network operators (MNOs) in Zambia has generally been very poor lately. Complaints by subscribers are becoming more aggressive. Just go to social media and look at the comments on the MNOs pages.
The demand for improved service forced ZICTA to ban freebies that these MNOs were giving to their customers because they believe that was what was causing network congestion, leading to deteriorating service countrywide.
True, there were a lot of freebies that subscribers took advantage of and obviously the traffic load increased as people had more access to services, but was the promotional ban the ONLY way to go with this?
ZICTA itself has just finished constructing cell towers in locations that will allow MNOs to penetrate even the rural market and increase connectivity. These cell towers were also meant to help MNOs cut down on costs they would have otherwise incurred by erecting their own. We understand maintenance of a cell tower doesn’t come cheap.
These towers are not being used yet, unfortunately. Some of them are yet to be hooked onto the mobile grid but plans could have been agreed on way back with mobile operators to start using them as soon as they were put up.
Poor service does not have to be something we settle for. We do pay a pretty penny to access the services provided by mobile operators and communication is no longer a luxury but a necessity these days.
So, what should ZICTA do?
Get mobile operators to start renting those cell towers as fast as possible. This will open up the mobile space, and allow for more traffic to be handled flawlessly.
What should mobile operators do?
Get serious about the service they aim to provide. They need to produce competitive offers that will draw more business to them, which will in the end be of financial benefit to them. They need to get creative on board too, who know how to market products that make sense, not with terms and conditions that seem shady and complicated.
What should customers do?
Keep demanding their money’s worth. There are too many instances of paying for services that you can’t even access, plus those stories of ‘missing airtime’. They should raise issues up with the relevant authority, the mobile operator and if necessary ZICTA. Don’t be lax with your hard earned money that you’re using to pay for some of these services.
In general, the mobile communications environment needs to get out of bed, have some coffee and start its day. 2015 is almost here and I personally don’t want to enter it with a “network busy” notice whenever I want to use a service.