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Telecom cos not improving service despite NTA orders

KATHMANDU, DEC 26 - Telecom companies have not improved their quality of service (QoS) despite repeated directives from the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA). The NTA too has not been able to take action against phone companies carrying out tests of the service being provided to users.

Responding to public complaints of poor service quality, the NTA has been urging mobile service providers to improve their service by issuing a public notice instead of taking action against them. In the same notice published on Wednesday, the NTA has asked customers to file complaints about the QoS via email, SMS, fax or phone.

An NTA official said that the authority began to focus on improving the quality of service immediately after Digambar Jha became the chairman. “In a way it is good, but first the chairman should have reviewed whether the phone companies would improve their service as per past directives or not and take necessary action against them,” said the official.

About 10 months ago, the authority had issued strict orders to three operators—Nepal Telecom, Ncell and United Telecom Limited—to improve the quality within six months after finding that their QoS ranged below the criteria set by the International Telecommuni-cation Union (ITU). A telecom service is considered good if the operator’s call quality rate is 90 percent or above.

Even though there has been a remarkable growth in the subscriber base, service quality has remained the same, according to the NTA. The regulator is in a wait-and-see condition after the appointment of the new NTA chairman. “We are committed to taking action against operators failing to offer quality service for what the customers pay,” said Ananda Raj Khanal, director of the NTA.

Meanwhile, telecom companies are having a hard time keeping their network sites running due to the increased power cuts despite using diesel generators. Both big telecom companies-Nepal Telecom and Ncell-have said that power cut was a major hurdle.    

“Load-shedding is the major problem when it comes to the QoS issue,” said Guna Kesari Pradhan, spokesperson of Nepal Telecom. She added that there were some temporary problems with calls made from normal GSM mobiles to CDMA lines due to the ongoing migration from CDMA to the IP CDMA network.

“We are committed to provide quality service for better customer experience,” said Sanju Koirala, corporate communication director of Ncell. She said that the government should come up with a plan to provide uninterrupted power supply to telecom companies rather than tightening screw on them without realising the ground reality.

The QoS of telecom companies has been a major issue for the last five years. Last year, the NTA hired Brazen Consultant to conduct QoS surveys in four major cities—Kathmandu, Pokhara, Biratnagar and Nepalgunj. The study showed that service quality had not improved since 2007 when a similar survey was conducted. According to the report, the service was “bad” in most places, and operators failed to meet the benchmarks.

The study revealed that consumers reported phone service as being “bad” in all the cities except for Ncell’s “so-so” service in Biratnagar. The performance of NT’s GSM mobile network was “bad” in Kathmandu, “normal” in Pokhara and “so-so” in Biratnagar and Nepalgunj. Similarly, Ncell’s service quality was “normal” in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Biratnagar and “so-so” in Nepalgunj. Customers said UTL’s service quality was “normal” in Kathmandu and Nepalgunj and but “so-so” in Pokhara and Biratnagar.

Posted on: 2012-12-27 09:03

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