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By Michael Malakata , IDG News Service

The Communications Authority of Zambia has issued a set of guidelines aimed at improving the quality of mobile telecom services.

The Authority developed the Quality of Service Standards (QoSS) in response to poor service by the country’s largest mobile provider, Zain Zambia.

Besides suffering congestion, Zain Zambia’s network has been collapsing since last month leaving thousands of subscribers unconnected. Last week the Authority warned the company to fix its problems or face sanctions.

The new guidelines will be put into force within three years starting this year. However, customers complain that the roll-out period is too long, and leaves them suffering from poor service.

All three service providers in the country should adhere to the guidelines or face stiff penalties, said the Authority’s director of economics and research Susan Mulikita last week during a meeting on quality of service.

Mulikita said although effective now, the new standards should be adhered to in totality by 2010. The authority will “name and shame” any service provider that fails to abide by the guidelines, by publishing statistics on the quality of service. It will also add penalties for noncompliance.

“The Communications Authority has already acquired equipment which would enable the institution to get information on the performance of the operators,” Mulikita said.

 

The new QoSS mandates a call completion rate of about 95 percent for local and international calls, and fewer than 10 faults per 100 subscribers. Delivery time for SMS (short message service) should be less than 5 seconds.

For its part, Zain Zambia maintains that its network failure is due to work on upgrading and maintenance of equipment in order to improve the network, said public relations manager Bridget Nundwe.

Mobile Telecommunications Network of South Africa and government-run CellZ are the other two mobile service providers operating in Zambia.

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