Saturday, September 23, 2023
BusinessAuthority takes aim at subpar telecom service with upcoming regulation

Authority takes aim at subpar telecom service with upcoming regulation

The Ethiopian Communication Authority (ECA) is poised to introduce strict new performance standards for mobile network operators and internet service providers, aiming to crack down on subpar connectivity that has long frustrated consumers.

Under forthcoming regulation expected within months, the ECA will closely monitor key metrics like call success rates, internet speeds and customer service response times.

Operators failing to meet benchmarks face monetary penalties, a major escalation in the authority’s attempts to drive network reliability and speed improvements.

The new rules are intended to address chronic issues like call drops, slow connections and poor coverage that have plagued users for years.

Though the Authority currently monitors operator services every three months, findings of poor performance have so far resulted only in warnings.

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“There is a strict service quality standard in place to monitor services every three months,” Balch Reba (Eng.), Director General of the Authority, told The Reporter.

His office is currently inspecting service quality and advising operators to make improvements when poor performance is found.

The Authority is also equipping itself with more network testing equipment to inspect the networks of more than three operators, as well as enabling itself with additional legal frameworks regarding quality assurance.

Dubbed the Communication Service Regulation, the document will be shared with the public for consultation, Balcha disclosed. He expects the ratification of the regulation within six months.

“If the operator fails to fulfill a single parameter, we will announce it to the public, and there will be consequences,” he said.

At peak hours, internet speed performance should not decrease below 75 percent of the subscribed speed limit, the Director General said, explaining one of the performance indicators.

Recent experience from internet subscribers shows deteriorating speeds during peak hours, which Balcha observed himself.

“There are still issues meeting minimum requirements for internet speed at peak hours,” he said. “However, efforts are being made to remedy this.”

Since Safaricom Ethiopia launched operations almost a year ago, Ethiopians have had a second choice of telecom operator. The government is also gearing up to license a third operator.

The Ethiopian Communication Authority (ECA) announced in June this year that it would begin accepting applications for Ethiopia’s long-awaited third telecommunications operator license.

“Our goal of attracting two foreign telecom operators is progressing as planned, with Safaricom already here and the process underway to attract the second one,” he said.

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