No fines for poor cell networks

2010-08-25 15:03

Johannesburg - The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) said on Wednesday that it had not yet imposed any penalties on SA mobile firms for poor network standards, more than a year after introducing regulations which included hefty fines for connectivity failures.
Icasa released the final version of its End-User and Subscriber Service Charter regulations at the end of July 2009, which then came into effect in August.

Mobile communications companies would be subjected to a R500 000 fine for poor network standards, Icasa said.

The regulations were introduced after networks came under fire for increased dropped calls.

Icasa stipulated that electronic communications services (ECS) and electronic communications network service (ECNS) licensees should ensure they achieved an average of 95% network service availability over a period of six months.

In addition, the percentage of connectivity failure rate should not exceed an average of 3% of all connections over a period of six months.

Icasa told I-Net Bridge on Wednesday: "The regulations are in force and they assist us more in terms of our complaints handling processes.

"The Icasa council met with mobile operators last year to address the issues of poor network standards and operators committed to improving their network standards," it said.

"No fines have been imposed so far in terms of these regulations," Icasa said.

Last year, the regulator said it had budgeted R6m to install the equipment and monitor network quality.

"The authority has laid down processes for monitoring quality of service and the engineering and technology division is charged with that responsibility of making sure that operators comply with the regulations," it said.

"These regulations will be reviewed after two years of coming into effect," the regulator for the South African communications sector said.

Earlier this month, South Africa's third mobile operator Cell C admitted publicly that its network was failing its customers.

CEO Lars P Reichelt apologised to the group's customers in a full-page advert in Business Day.

Regulations demanded that mobile communications firms had to maintain an average of a 90% fault clearance rate for all faults reported within three days, with the remaining 10% to be cleared within six days.

Moreover, companies should within seven days of receipt of a request notify and provide full reasons to qualifying service applicants where they were unable to provide service within the period, Icasa said.

Under the legislation, companies were also required to formally resolve all complaints from the complainants within 14 days of their receipt.

Icasa added that mobile communications companies had to prepare and submit to it six-monthly reports on complaints received and processed.

According to Icasa, a licence held to be non-compliant by the complaints and compliance committee will be liable to a fine not exceeding R500 000 for a contravention of regulation 4; R150 000 for a contravention of regulations 5 and 6; and an additional R50 000 for every repeated offence.

  • Michael - 2010-08-25 15:29

    O this is a great idea. I wonder if the fine will get passed on to the public? Rather publish the figures and let people make an informed choice and vote with their pockets. This is just a money making excercise. BLEH!

  • adam - 2010-08-25 15:31

    It is no surprise people are dropping Cell C like a hot potato. They are useless. I get messages that I had a missed call, when my telephone did not even ring! Fine them, I say!

  • Baboon monitor - 2010-08-25 15:48

    Why should we expect any action on financial penalties when the ruling party is so deeply involved commercially in the sector?

  • @Baboon - 2010-08-25 16:21

    The point is- they have not been fined yet- as the ruling party has a hand in it!! Wha ha ha. It's the law- but we are not following it- go figure- welcome to Africa!!

  • MP3 - 2010-08-25 16:38

    It's not Cell C we should be targeting in any case for this... Vodascum & MTN have for the past 3 months been dropping my calls. FINE THEM!!!!

  • Bryn - 2010-08-25 16:43

    Its not only Cell C - Vodacom in Cape Town is just as bad. As soon as you drive around the mountain, your call gets dropped! And when you complain, it is denied!

  • @adam - 2010-08-25 16:57

    Bad news Bud. It happens far more with my MTN phone than my wife's Cell C phone...

  • Henry - 2010-08-25 18:16

    Hot talk - Cold action.Par for the course.

  • sameer - 2010-08-25 20:25

    Thats nothing im waiting for 5 years this september for issues regarding coverage by vodacom and they still have the odesity to tell me it can take so long to get rights for a new tower.I guess icasa is just another gravy train

  • Marc - 2010-08-25 21:38

    The usual crock. Vodacom are beyond useless, I have more dropped calls than successful ones every day. Pretty sure the reality is they are all useless and Neotel is even worse...

  • Brad - 2010-08-25 22:41

    they should also monitor the strength of the 3G or Wireless internet and fine the buggers when it continues to drop. Vodacom 3G is useless in Cape Town be it in the city bowl or southern suburbs or wherever. Ridiculously expensive and useless. Time to pull figure and stop irritating us with that stupid meerkat as well...

  • Salim - 2010-08-25 23:08

    Icasa gotta be the most useless department in this country all a bunch of thievs South Africa is slipping fast into a normal African Country

  • Gary Clark - 2010-08-26 06:57

    I can only talk on my phone in 2 areas of my house otherwise the calls drop. What kills me is that they get fined and someone else gets rich at me demise. When on the net my 3g that is supposed to be so fast is slower than the old land line we used to use. The first 30seconds is billed then after that it is per second billing so they keep making extra money off us. They should be banned from signing any new contracts till they sort this out.

  • Aki - 2010-08-26 09:07

    I have CellC and MTN phones. Comparing the 2 MTN drops more than CellC, while you talking. But CellC has a record of missed calls when phone didn't even ring. I used to rely on MTN for data calls but not anymore. Conclusion - they are all the same, the standards are so poor.

  • Jo - 2010-08-26 09:51

    I moved from MTN to Vodacom because I thought the dropped calls might be less, big surprise - they landed up being worse. I also have the issue where I get a message about missed calls when the phone didn't ring and there's full signal!! They're all just sucking us dry. Why? Because we let them. If we all decided to go just one week free of cellphones, they'd lose far more money than ICASA could ever fine them....

  • Useless - 2010-08-26 10:07

    I logged two complaints against MTN at ICASA and after nearly 2 years nothing was resolved. End result, I told MTN to shove it. If you read their terms you can see they are in cahoots because you as a client must give them infinite time to try and remedy the situation. Go ICASA go. You are better off complaining to Hello Peter.

  • Ricardo - 2010-12-07 20:05

    HI.Hope somebody could help?I am with vodacom prepaid.I recieved a missed call notification from them including the number.Heres the funny bit,that same evening my phone got stolen with the sim card.That number was important,could vodacom retrieve it or something? please help thanks Ricardo

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