The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has raised the benchmark on mobile network operators NetOne, Econet and Telecel to deliver acceptable quality of services to consumers. The regulator launched countrywide consumer education and awareness campaigns at the beginning of this year, targeting every citizen who uses information communication technologies.
Potraz has been noting with serious concerns in the previous three years as any consumers cried foul over poor quality of services from their mobile network operators. Many consumers have been complaining over disappearing data bundles and airtime which were not lasting their expected time of use.
Potraz as the steward of the telecommunications has decided to take a serious stance on its major mandates which include protecting consumer rights. One of the regulator’s major obligations is to ensure that operators deliver the average expected quality of services which cover the provision of voice, high quality broadband Internet access and other stipulated services.
Since the Internet revolution swept across the globe, Zimbabwe has been realizing a positive growth in the Internet penetration rate which now sits at 50,8%. The constant increase in the Internet penetration rate can be accredited to Zimbabwe’s massive increase in the mobile penetration rate which moved by 2,2% in the last quarter of 2017 to reach 102.7% from 100.5% recorded in the previous quarter following a 2.1% increase in subscriptions.
Despite Zimbabwe enjoying a positive trajectory in the growth of the telecommunications sector, the same cannot be said about the quality of services which are being offered to the consumers by the operators. NetOne, Econet and Telecel have all been accused of reaping customers on data and airtime services which are not lasting their expected life-cycle.
To make its a clear statement on its desire to cleanse the country’s telecommunications sector, Potraz recently punished NetOne over a OneFusion data failure which saw many subscribers taking their grievances to social media forcing the regulator to act. Potraz then ordered NetOne to reimburse the affected OneFusion subscribers, a move which was applauded by consumers across the country.
Potraz has made it clear that it will penalize any operator who does not meet the acceptable quality of service standards set by the regulator. To ensure that this message is clearly echoed across the country, Potraz has launched a series of consumer awareness campaigns across the country covering six provinces so far.
In the country’s Telecommunications Act, Potraz says that consumers have the right to disclosure where they must be able to access transparent, up-to-date information about prices and services offered by operators.
One of the major rights which Potraz is advocating for is the delivery of high quality services to consumers. Telecommunication service users have the right to access high quality, reliable service from both service providers and the regulator. Service Providers must provide high quality services and must publish information about initial supply times, fault rates and repair times as well as put technical and organizational measures in place to guarantee the integrity and security of their networks and services. Regulators should set and enforce quality of service standards. Consumers are entitled to guaranteed access to emergency calling services.