The National Communication Authority (NCA) has banned Vodafone Ghana from the registration of new subscribers from now to July 31, 2014.
The telecom company has been suspended from acquiring new customers either through sales and activation of new SIMs or by porting.
The company has subsequently been ordered to immediately investigate thoroughly and rectify fully all issues on its core network involving their recharge platform and the home location register.
A statement issued by the NCA said “this directive will be in force until the 31st of July, 2014, following which date, the NCA will conduct tests to satisfy itself that the network’s Quality of Service to consumers has improved”.
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Last week Monday and Tuesday was frustrating for millions of Vodafone subscribers who could not make calls, top up credit or use data bundles.
According to NCA figures, Vodafone currently has 6,480,434 mobile subscribers, 258,313 fixed line users with a total market share of 22.61 per cent as of March 2014. The figures make Vodafone the second biggest telecom company after MTN.
Angry subscribers took to the company’s Facebook page to vent their anger and frustrations.
Larry Osei-Kwaku wrote, “Vodafone Ghana, you are a living nightmare, it’s over your complacency, ineptitude and inefficiency that we suffer. It’s like your subscribers should bear the outcome of your numerous errors, can you explain why you simply had to erase my bundled data without refunding it simply because you have a technical issue?”
Another frustrated customer, Elvis Ofosuhene, said, “You can take us for granted. Prepare for court. I’m on my way to port my number to MTN.”
“Every day plenty adverts but the service keeps getting bad,” Adinkra Kyeremeh lamented.
With respect to compensation, the NCA, in the statement, ordered Vodafone to submit their Consumer Compensation Plan to the authority for approval. The compensation is for Fixed Line and Mobile Service subscribers who suffered inconveniences by the outage on June 3, 2014.
Interestingly, Vodafone was the company that escaped the wrath of the NCA in August last year because it met all the licence obligations during the period.
According to reports the company submitted to the telecom regulator, the crisis was as a result of a network failure which affected all subscribers on its fixed and mobile networks.
The statement said NCA had been concerned that in recent times, Vodafone had been experiencing challenges on its network, a situation which had, in turn, been affecting consumers’ service experience.
“This is a situation the Authority does not find acceptable, considering the importance of communication services to Ghanaians,”
“The Authority is hopeful that Vodafone will utilise the period to find permanent solutions to the issues and thereby improve the quality of service experience to existing consumers,” the statement added.
When contacted, the CEO Vodafone Ghana, Mr Haris Broumidis, said “we are engaging with the NCA, I have nothing more to say”.
However, in an apology posted on its Facebook wall, the CEO said the company had instituted a full-scale investigation into the incident and would soon provide a detailed report to the regulator, the NCA.
“We regret the inconvenience caused by the network outage experienced yesterday and we sincerely apologise to all our customers. Service is now restored and customers should be able to make and receive calls, send text messages and browse the internet,” he said.
The NCA, in recent times, has been ruthless with its sanctioning regimes. In August last year, MTN was slapped with more than GH¢1 million fine for inaccurately charging for incoming International calls.
The company’s application to add some 13 million numbers to its more than 10 million existing subscribers was blocked by the NCA.
The NCA has also been on a fining spree since 2012, but the move has not proved deterrent enough, as poor services, characterised by call drops, call breaks, network congestion and Internet interruptions have compelled some users to subscribe to more than one network.
In May, last year, five telcos — MTN, tiGO, Glo, Airtel and Expresso — out of the six operators, were slapped with fines totalling GH¢900,000 for providing poor services to their consumers.
However, in defence of the telcos, the Telecom Chamber of Commerce had always maintained that a number of factors including cable cuts, thefts and bottlenecks in rolling out telecommunication infrastructure all contributed to the poor service.