The Chairman of the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) has, in a no-nonsense mood, during a press conference on Friday 11th March 2016, informed journalists that a fine of 1.2 million dollars has been levied on one of Sierra Leoneís leading GSM providers, Airtel, for poor quality providence and poor network availability.
The fine is supposed to be paid within 7 working days.
Whilst making his statement, NATCOM Chairman Mr. Momoh Konte said that the two leading providers: Airtel and Africell, had earlier promised a strong commitment to maintain mobile phone networks services in Sierra Leone at International Telecommunications Union Standard(ITU). He said the companies reiterated their commitments to delivering ITU Standard Quality of Service and to continue the expansion and modernization of their mobile voice and data network all over the country. He also said that both operators shared details of their projects already under implementation to achieve their objectives.
Speaking sternly, Mr. Konte lamented that Airtel did not keep to its stated commitments or its stated projects under implementation.
Mr. Konte said therefore that in line with the agreement to maintain Sierra Leone mobile network service at international levels that the Commission through consultations with its Engineering Department found that Airtel is not providing the quality of services it should.
After the department discovered the lapse, they held a meeting where they deliberated and came to conclusion that based on their statutory powers, they should fine Airtel. Therefore, the appropriate department calculated that the fine should be 1.2 million dollars.
The NATCOM Chairman emphasized the importance and need for quality mobile network service all over the country especially rural coverage, and the expansion of 3G services. He said that will accelerate the socio-economic development of the country.
All efforts to get Airtel to react to the fine, proved fruitless as none of the spokespersons were available for comment. However, in a press release issued on Friday 11th March, 2016, Airtel SL says it has made deliberate efforts in improving the Quality of Service (QoS) on their network. The press release states that they will continue to be in discussion with their key stakeholders, including the industry regulator, NATCOM, to explore ways of enhancing the customer experience on their network within Sierra Leone.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.