Problems sorted as cellphone use soars
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.