In performing its mandate as the nation’s telecommunications regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) under the able and dynamic leadership of Momoh Konte on Thursday August 3rd 2017 at the Commission’s headquarters in Freetown engaged mobile communications service providers on their compliance with a better service provision memorandum that they signed with NATCOM about four months ago.
NATCOM censured the companies for failing to fully live up to the expectations of the MoU upon which NATCOM tentatively granted them permission to lift the fee for calls per minute from Le450 to Le650 – a decision that was received by the consumer public with very mixed feelings.
|Chairman of NATCOM, Momoh Konteh
However, acting as a fair arbiter, NATCOM after listening to the argument of the mobile operators at a stakeholder’s conference held at the Bintumani Hotel agreed to the tariff increased, based on the following prevailing factors:
· the present economic trend
· Increase in fuel price
· Depreciation in the value of the Leone
In exchange, the mobile companies promised to improve their networks; something consumers had complained heavily about. Failure to do this, NATCOM told them it will revisit the tariff increase.
Briefing the press on developments since the signing of the MoU, Momoh Konte said the meeting was to evaluate, through scientific evidence, how far the networks had gone with compliance with the MoU in order to help NATCOM decide what next to do.
Reporting, the NATCOM Quality Service Manager, Melvin King,(an engineer) said in spite of progress made in network improvement within the stipulated timeframe set out in the MOU, the providers have narrowly failed to meet the threshold on the six key Performance Indicators, namely;
· Call drop rate
· Call congestion
· Call setup success
· Hand over success rate and other things geared towards enhancing quality network service.
The monitoring committee and consumers expressed grave concern over the failure but pleaded with NATCOM to give them a second chance, citing that the companies have exhibited sincerity, commitment and dedication in striving towards achieving the set goal.
The appeal was buttressed by the Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Information and Communication, Hon Binneh Bangura.
NATCOM and the stakeholders will meet again and issue a position statement.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.