Prob­lems sorted as cell­phone use soars

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - ANGELA - CANDICE BAI­LEY

AS ISO­LATED com­plaints of in­ter­rupted cell­phone net­work ser­vices trickle in, South Africa’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions author­ity be­lieves the coun­try’s three big cel­lu­lar op­er­a­tors are ready to deal with the surge in users over the next six weeks.

South Africa’s cel­lu­lar user data­base of 50 mil­lion is ex­pected to re­ceive an in­jec­tion of over 600 000 SIM cards is­sued to for­eign ticket pur­chasers vis­it­ing the coun­try for the World Cup.

This week cell­phone users al­ready started lodg­ing griev­ances on in­ter net sites and so­cial net­work­ing por­tals like Twit­ter and Face­book, com­plain­ing of dropped calls or not be­ing able to make or re­ceive calls.

And on Wed­nes­day, as thou­sands of ea­ger fans gath­ered in Sand­ton for the Unite for Bafana cam­paign, there was a brief col­lapse of the net­work.

Their is­sues come roughly a year af­ter the coun­try ex­pe­ri­enced heavy in­ter­rupted ser­vices dur­ing last year’s Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup.

At the time, In­de­pen­dent Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Author­ity of South Africa chair­man Paris Mashile said he would give cel­lu­lar providers six months to sort out prob­lems with de­layed SMSes and dropped calls.

But this week Icasa said it was all sys­tems go as it had re­ceived a com­mit­ment from ser­vice providers that they would be ready to han­dle the in­flux of mo­bile traf­fic dur­ing the World Cup.

The author­ity ad­mit­ted that it has still been re­ceiv­ing some com­plaints re­lat­ing to dropped calls. How­ever, it says these have been “min­i­mal” and not se­ri­ous enough to el­e­vate the is­sue to a dis­ci­plinary level.

“This shows that there is a cer­tain level of com­pli­ance with re­gard to these com­plaints and it clearly shows that op­er­a­tors have taken the mat­ter se­ri­ously and are work­ing hard to deal with these chal­lenges,” said spokesman Paseka Maleka.

“As far as the author­ity is concerned, it’s all sys­tems go for the cel­lu­lar op­er­a­tors. The author­ity has the frame­work (in terms of reg­u­la­tions) in place to en­sure that these op­er­a­tors pro­vide the ser­vice they were li­censed for. Any de­vi­a­tion from these will re­sult in ac­tion be­ing taken against the de­fault­ing party,” he added.

Af­ter night­mar­ish prob­lems on cell­phone net­works last year Icasa pub­lished the End-User and Sub­scriber Ser­vice Char­ter, which sets out the min­i­mum stan­dard of ser­vice pro­vi­sion for net­work providers.

The prob­lems were a wakeup call for ser­vice providers who in­sti­tuted ma­jor plans for cov­er­age dur­ing this year’s spec­tac­u­lar.

MTN has spent close to half a bil­lion rand on in­fra­struc­ture to cater for ad­di­tional de­mands on its net­work dur­ing the tour­na­ment.

It has set up 348 an­ten­nae in­stalled through­out the Joburg sta­dium to en­sure even and seam­less cov­er­age.

Sim­i­lar sys­tems, but on a smaller scale, have been in­stalled at each of the other nine sta­di­ums. There’s also ad­di­tional in­fra­struc­ture in place at air­ports for the du­ra­tion of the cup.

Richard Boor­man in Vo­da­com’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions depart­ment said the com­pany had made sus­b­tan­tial in­vest­ments, par­tic­u­larly where there would be high vol­umes of peo­ple, like sta­di­ums and air­ports.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.