Earlier this month the Minister of ICT Supa Mandiwanzira gazetted new Quality of Service (QoS) regulations for the Zimbabwean telecommunications sector.
For people who have been following these developments, this is the same set of draft regulations that had POTRAZ, the telecoms industry regulator seeking input from Zimbabweans in September last year.
Under the new regulations, the performance of all telecoms operators and their delivery of service is expected to meet a new set of standards which will be monitored by POTRAZ.
You can access the complete regulations from POTRAZ, and you can also access the draft regulations that give an outline of the framework from the POTRAZ website.
This new QoS framework is expected to bring in new levels of accountability which will protect consumers from an unreliable performance from all registered operators while ensuring that certain levels of service value are delivered.
It won’t be empty talk only, though. There are some provisions for the enforcement of the regulatory framework which have been included.
POTRAZ is empowered to penalise operators that fail to comply with the key performance indicators or are unable to resolve consumer complaints within the resolution-time set by the regulations.
What do the regulations cover?
Some of the service quality targets that have been set by POTRAZ include the following
- for mobile voice telecommunication, the activation of service has to be within 5 seconds
- operators have been given an allowance of up to 1 hour for service downtime in mobile voice telecommunications
- a target of at least 95% has been set for the call success rate (CSR) – which refers to the number of calls established over the total number of mobile call attempts to a valid number
- there’s a target of at least 80% for the Call Completion Rate (CCR) – which is the percentage of calls that have been successfully setup, maintained and terminated normally by the caller or receiver to the total number of call attempts in a specific time period.
- the audio voice quality of mobile voice calls should be deemed as being at least fair
- there is a 98% target has been set for SMS delivery success
- for mobile broadband, the data service availability target- which is the ratio of successful logging on and attached to the network to the total attempts – has been set at 98%
- fixed data and internet services have been given a 99,99% target for service availability
- for fixed internet services, when it comes to the downlink throughput – which is the speed with which data can be transmitted from a remote device to a local device, there is a target of at least 95 % of speed agreed with the user
Some of the other parameters that have been set are for consumer care and these apply to all service under local telecommunications. These include
- a target of 1 hour or less for responding to a subscriber’s failed attempts to check the account balance
- a request for a PUK code should be met within an hour
- a request for blocking a reported lost or stolen SIM card for which subscriber ownership has been confirmed should be met within 30 minutes during working hours
- the reflection of bill payments for a mobile account should take less than 5 minutes and at most 10 minutes for online payments after there’s a receipt of payment
A look at these regulations shows how Zimbabweans stand to benefit from better value provision from operators.
Issues like service quality have received a measurable value and customer care which is largely disappointing from the host of service providers in the country has also been placed under the spotlight, something that will benefit from the weight of the law.
However, for this to have the intended impact POTRAZ will have to make sure that the market is fully educated on how to raise complaints, follow up on poor delivery and share their worst experiences with the relevant people.