South Africa's three mobile network operators were called in for a meeting by the country's telecoms regulator yesterday following an increase in complaints about network quality. The issue came to a head when a reality TV show had to delay the announcement of a winner following delays in receiving SMS based votes from viewers.
Some of the affected areas included Germiston, parts of Sandton, Randburg, East Rand, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
According to the regulator, ICASA, the network operators largely cited factors outside their control, such as ongoing theft of copper wire from their backhaul networks and vandalism attacks. They also claimed that delays in setting up new base stations due to " environmental impact studies" is slowing capacity increases.
They also blamed interference caused by illegal and sub-standard cell phone handsets, although no details were provided.
With regard to the TV show, the problem could be attributed to the limited capacity of the transmission line connecting the SMS Centre and the service provider database. The Authority has instructed MTN, Cell C and Vodacom to effect a solution to the problems as soon as possible. Failing which, the complaints raised by consumers would be referred to the Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) for adjudication and possible penalties.
The regulator is planning to hold further meetings next month and start publishing a quarterly report on network quality performance.ds