On The Issue Of Poor Quality Of Service In The Telecoms Sector

Communication antennas

It was sometime in 2013…..A community Karumo, somewhere in Ilorin, had shut down the telecoms base station belonging to a telecoms company l represented. This led to a downtime leading to poor Quality of Service (QoS) and it was time for me to step in.

Getting to the community, l stepped down from the car and was coldly welcomed by CDA members with more inimical faces than had ever before dared to unmask in my nine years as a legal representative of the telecoms industry. A large family ranging from a great-grandfather to wondering thumb-sucking boys with swart hair that defies the comb had gathered, chewing something in their mouths as if all of them had run down to meet me from their midday meal.

I informed the crammed congregation where l came from and why l came. Immediately, one of the men, with a face that could turn milk sour, pulled a boy from the crowd and pushed him toward me, saying ‘This is Jelili, he has refused to grow taller since he was 5 years old’. I was confused, not able to see the point he was making. Then, he called out another boy,’Kasimu! Come out’. The second boy, with a shortness of stature like the first boy, also stepped forward, walking like his legs had lost all power of locomotion. Then, the man turned to me, ‘See this one too. He has refused to grow. And that’s the result of the telecoms mast you have erected in our community. All our children are no more growing up; they are all short. We want compensation and will not allow you to operate until you give us compensation!!!’. I had laughed. He told me he wasn’t joking. I told him l wasn’t laughing.

But that’s not the point of concern here.

The real point of concern is that we, as individuals, contribute significantly to the low standard of QoS that we often get from the telecoms operators, in spite of the NCC’s Quality of Service Regulations 2013, which is sometimes attributable to a lot of factors beyond the operators’ control. Indiscriminate closure of base stations is one that should run contagiously through the minds. Government policies, such as multiple taxation or stringent regulation also often lead to a massive shutdown of telecoms base stations. Yet, we have come to expect telecoms services to be readily available whenever we need them and to perform optimally in a way that satisfies our expectations. This is because we fail to consider the enormous amount of systems, functions and hardware and software technical devices that have to function properly to make a single connection possible.

Again, we need to always remember that, in the telecommunications industry, quality, not price, is the main factor in purchasing decisions. Stands to reason why, unlike prices which users can easily compare across carriers, the telecommunications industry rarely publicizes QoS. However, in order to ensure that market forces do work effectively to safeguard and promote QoS in the face of intense competition and daunting challenges, there is a need to show some sympathetic understanding. Think about the likes of MOBITEL, RELTEL, ODU’ATEL, MULTILINKS et al that crumbled along the line for the various reasons, ranging from erratic power supply, conflict of roles among government agencies to poor management decisions even though we are all aware that things still go wrong even if telecommunication equipment is amongst the most reliable in the world. We then need a rethink on our position in order to safeguard the interest of the operators in their efforts towards achieving excellent QoS.

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