By Zvamaida Murwira
Gokwe — The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) is set to be tough on telecommunication operators whose services fall short of statutory standards, an official has said.
Potraz executive officer responsible for economic and financial analysis Mr Talent Munyaradzi said they were winding up countrywide road shows in which they were receiving feedback from users of telecommunication services and would soon ensure that they enforced the law.
Mr Munyaradzi said this in an interview in Gokwe Nembudziya on Saturday where his organisation was conducting a road show aimed at raising awareness on consumer grievances.
He said there was a Statutory Instrument governing services, both postal and mobile service providers, and Potraz would impose varied penalties on service providers.
Mr Munyaradzi said they would be on high alert to ensure service providers complied with the law.
This comes against the background where the quality of service, including call set up time (ease of connectivity), duration of uninterrupted calls and internet speeds have at times been and continue to be an issue for users.
Prior to Government’s promulgation of a law that specifically outlines quality of service standards, Potraz had no benchmark against which to hold operators, neither did consumers have basis on which to hold services, particularly mobile network operators. “We have been moving around the country interacting with consumers,” said Mr Munyaradzi. “We heard about their complaints and we also told them that they ought to direct complaints to Potraz.
“We will be issuing out show cause orders to various service providers on why their services were failing to comply with the law on quality of services. We will impose fines of varied amounts for operators who fall short of the benchmark of services.”
Mr Munyaradzi said in their interaction with consumers, the major complaint was on the duration of data bundles by mobile network operators. “They are complaining that there is a mismatch between the window period of say one week and the time that it will actually take when one is credited with data bundles,” he said. “They said the data bundles were not lasting the given duration.”
Mr Munyaradzi said while Potraz would look into the issue, there seemed to be lack of information that the one week window period was mainly for ordinary use of data bundles. “You will notice that in most cases, these data bundles have window periods in terms of say 90 megabytes,” he said. “So, an ordinary use would last one week.”
Gokwe Nembudziya legislator Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena implored consumers to be responsible in the use of social media. “It is a crime, as what Potraz officials would confirm, to send offensive messages,” he said. “Let us be responsible when we use social media via our mobile phones.”
Cde Wadyajena said Potraz was there to protect consumers and should fully use them in directing complaints.
In terms of new regulations promulgated and adopted by Potraz last year, telecommunication service providers are compelled to observe minimum service quality and customer care standards in provision of services such as voice, internet and data connectivity, short message and multimedia message services.
Potraz has in the past said it was disturbed by the shoddy service quality from some of the operators.
According to regulations, call completion rate, calls successfully set-up, maintained and terminated normally by the calling or called party should be equal or exceed 80 percent, while the rate of voice calls and dropped calls should be restricted within the two percent band.