Mobile Calls: Unstable Network Persists Despite 3G

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Cameroonians are still begging for the fluid and speedy flow of calls and messages promised them with the coming of the network. Customers of the two prominent mobile telephone companies in Cameroon are in fury due to persistent network disturbances. Successfully making a call or sending a message through the networks of the companies is progressively becoming challenging. “Your phone is out of network-use with voice call”, are some of the inconvenient feedbacks subscribers with handsets adapted to the new digital world that was expected to be daring with numerous advantages get from the operators at times when they make calls. The cry is for a fluid and speedy flow of basic services which in this case comprise of calls and Short Message Service, SMS.

It was a rather disappointed subscriber who fumed at how she received an SMS at midnight on March 30, 2015 from her bank. She said her first thought was on what could be holding back workers in the office at midnight and to what emergency was their message. “The message coming at that time was of no urgency,” Sorelle said. A closer look at the messages revealed that the dispatch time was 11 a.m though it was delivered at midnight. This simply brings to the fore the cry of subscribers on the late delivery of messages. Some messages even take days to reach their destination. “And what if you were sending an emergency message,” pondered Sorelle. If, message delivery is still a regular complaint; “Message not sent, or failure delivery, try again,” or “safe to drafts” are also still characteristic of the operators these days. What is even disturbing is that a message can take days to go through. Making calls successfully is also a cause for concern. A call is launched but ends before the telephone is even positioned on the ear. “The number you are trying to call is unreachable,” or “the number you are calling is incorrect,” are just few of the many disagreeable feedbacks subscribers get from telephone companies. A subscriber told Cameroon Tribune that his business almost crumbled due to an unsuccessful emergency call. He said all attempts to get to his business partner were futile though his phone was turned on.

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On 11 March 2015 and 13 March 2015 when the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications signed 3G/4G and 3G+ concession agreements with MTN Cameroon and Orange respectively, the urge was for the two telephone companies to offer quality services to Cameroonians. Minister Jean Pierre Biyiti bi Essam went as far as cautioning the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency, to watch out for the scrupulous respect of the terms of reference of the concession agreement. During the separate ceremonies, the General Managers of the two leading mobile telephone companies were unanimous that the 3G was ushering in impeccable call services.

However, the 2010 law on Electronic Communication in Cameroon warns erring operators of possible sanctions. They risk sanctions ranging from FCFA 100 to FCFA 200 million. Meanwhile, the Telecommunication Regulatory Board keeps warning operators of imminent sanctions if services offered to subscribers were continually poor. Yet, results are still being awaited.

Victorine BIY NFOR

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