African communications regulators are moving to combat poor services by mobile service providers by imposing heavy fines.
The regulators are developing punitive laws, claiming that operators are exploiting subscribers by providing substandards services contrary to their license conditions.
Mobile service provider Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) Rwandacell has become the first mobile service provider to be punished twice this year, for providing poor network services to its customers in Nigeria and Rwanda.
In Zambia, the company has already been threatened with heavy penalties if it continues providing poor services.
The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agencies this week fined MTN Rwandacell about US$127,000 for providing poor services since last year. MTN Rwandacell CEO Themba Khumalo said MTN has already paid the fine and claimed the company’s network has since been upgraded.
The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agencies said MTN Rwandacell proposed to upgrade its network and solve the network failures in the first six months of the year, but the communication company was too slow to implement the proposal, forcing the regulator to act.
The regulatory board has also requested MTN Rwandacell to submit a roadmap on the action to be taken to meet the quality service demanded by the regulator.
In March this year, the Nigerian Communications Commission fined MTN about $24 million in compensation to subscribers after the company’s mobile service fell short of providing quality standards.
MTN operates in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East including Zambia, Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana and provides voice, data and Internet services.
The communications Authority of Zambia, the country’s telecom regulator, has already warned that it will start imposing heavy fines against MTN and other service providers operating for providing poor service.
The authority lacks power to impose fines, but legislation being developed will give the agency that ability.
Frustrations experienced by MTN subscribers include dropped calls and messages not being sent.