National Communications Authority to deal with telco charges

The National Communications Authority (NCA) has met the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to discuss and implement measures on consumer concerns relating to Tariff and Billing issues as well as Quality of Service. The meeting which was attended by all MNOs took place at the NCA on the 12th of February, 2018.

Speaking at the meeting, Director General (DG) of the NCA, Mr. Joe Anokye stressed that today’s consumers have become more demanding and no longer choose speed, quality or price, but demand and expect all three. As a result, the Authority, as part of its mandate has to ensure that consumers receive the value of the service they pay for.

The DG charged the Mobile Service Providers to work diligently to implement mechanisms by end of February, 2018 to address some specific concerns including:

  • Automatic Migration to pay-as-you-go when bundle is exhausted without notification to consumer and their consent
  • Automatic Renewal of One-Time Bundles
  • Deceptive Advertising of Promotions
  • Lack of Proof of Consent and retention of customer information
  • Quality of Service (Call Drops, Congestion etc.)

The MNOs were informed that the NCA had acquired a Billing Verification System which was aimed at monitoring billing and protecting both consumers and the service providers. Mr. Anokye referred to an initial monitoring exercise the Authority had conducted where it was revealed that the billing configurations of some MNOs were not consistent; with some MNOs undercharging or overcharging consumers. As a result, the Authority wants to promote transparency in Billing within the industry. The Billing Verification System (BVS) has the ability to simulate consumer behaviour and to determine whether consumers are billed accurately or not.

On QoS, Mr. Anokye referred the MNOs to previous engagements with them last year and said that the NCA expects an enhanced QoS. He said part of the rationale behind the regulatory decision to permit MNOs with 2G Licences to deploy Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems (UMTS), which is a 3G technology, was to improve voice and data services in unserved and underserved communities across the country.

The MNOs were informed that NCA’s regular QoS Drive Test monitoring across the country would resume in March, 2018. The monitoring would include coverage obligations, voice quality and data quality as stated in their licence conditions and with specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). All 3G Licence Holders are required to provide in all 216 District Capitals. The Director General reiterated that MNOs were expected to meet and exceed their obligations in their licences, given that the KPIs in their licences were outdated due to technological advancement and needs to be reviewed.

In response, the MNOs said they were committed to address these consumer issues as it would help grow their business by pleasing customers in order to retain and expand their customer base.

Mr. Anokye was optimistic that the outcome of the meeting would be positive in order to meet consumer’s expectations especially when MNOs operating in other countries have achieved these goals. He said the NCA would work closely with MNOs to improve the industry, ensure quality for consumers and build confidence within the industry, stressing that the Authority would not hesitate to apply sanctions if MNOs failed to meet their licence obligations.

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