NCA breaks silence on status of Surfline — But customers remain aggrieved
The telecommunications industry regulator has finally broken its long silence over the status of Surfline, pledging its commitment to protecting the interest of all users of telecommunications services, as well as stakeholders within the Industry.
Coming on the back of agitations expressed by the aggrieved customers of the ailing internet service provider, the National Communications Authority (NCA) noted, with grave concern, inquiries by the public regarding Surfline's operations and service outage.
It confirmed Surfline's service outage saying it has been aware of the challenges and had been engaging with the company to offer support to ensure that subscribers involved were protected, but customers have described the position of the NCA as long overdue.
“The Authority has, in the past several months, continued engagement with Surfline, following a formal communication by the company to shut down its Radio Access Network due to some operational challenges,” it said in a release.
The telecoms industry regulator noted that its engagements with Surfline were intended to allow the company to: Resolve issues concerning its indebtedness to its service providers; and publish information on its service outage to its subscribers.
It was also, the NCA said, intended to ensure that customers who have purchased data plans do not lose their data, and where applicable, appropriate compensation paid by Surfline to customers for any loss of service; and commence the process to initiate bulk-delinking of Surfline SIMs from the Central SIM Database in the event where the company fails to resume its operations and in relation to this, enables consumers to keep only their registered active SIMs.
“As we work for a successful implementation of the above ongoing regulatory measures, the NCA would like to assure the general public, particularly subscribers of Surfline, of our sustained commitment to protecting the interest of all users of telecommunications services, as well as stakeholders within the Industry,” it added.
Meanwhile, some aggrieved customers of Surfline have reacted angrily to the position of the NCA, saying that “the statement contained nothing soothing to assuage their frustrations.
To them, the NCA should have notified the public long ago, about the challenges, in order for them to know their next line of action.
They argued that having been kept in the dark for that long was a demonstration of a lack of commitment on the part of the industry regulator to protect their interest, wondering why the NCA would wait that long before coming up with an official statement.
“Their statement tells us that they were aware of the situation but never respected our rights to inform us to know the next line of action.
Some of us continued to load credit and yet had nothing in return as service,” one said on grounds of anonymity.
To her, the continuous silence of the NCA was deafening and “unbecoming of a regulator.
While demanding an unqualified apology from the NCA for ‘the long overdue silence on the matter, she also prevailed on the industry regulator to ensure that the management of Surfline refunded all that is their due to customers as soon as practicable to avoid any legal tussle of which the NCA could be drawn into for its failure to protect the interest of all subscribers.
Surfline, which prides itself as Ghana's first 4G LTE company that offers fast and reliable internet services, has been hit by serious financial difficulties, rendering it unable to continue to service its customers.
Consequently, the company has shut down its data centre.
Prior to that, the company, which aggressively hit the market with exclusive services and product offerings, also shut down its radio access network, leaving its subscribers in limbo.
The action of the company is also said to be a result of serious cost issues.
NCA had earlier confirmed to the Graphic Business the dire state of the company and why it was unable to continue with its services.
The NCA Director-General, Joe Anokye, said: “So, Surfline actually wrote to us that they had shut down their data centre.
Prior to that, they informed us that they were shutting down their radio access network because of cost.”
He said the NCA was working to issue a press release to clarify issues concerning Surfline “but I think it’s a major liquidity issue.”
Mr Anokye said the company was facing serious issues with some of its major vendors “and I think it's been very challenging for them.”