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Mobile Telephone - Quality First!

The arrival of mobile telephone opened floodgates of progress in information and communication technology in Cameroon.

The population saw in this innovation, a veritable transformation and a serious factor of development. Business people in particular welcomed the novelty with an absolute sigh of relief. In effect, the arrival of the mobile telephone system signalled the end of darkness in the telecommunication sector.  And so, obtaining a mobile phone set entailed sacrificing colossal sums of money. Those who afforded for one were regarded as people with special status in society. But as time went on and as the market was saturated by cheaper mobile phone sets from Asia, trouble changed direction.

This time, the hurdle was no longer getting a phone set but "feeding" it with airtime and above all receiving high quality services.  There was every sign that the companies involved were ready to give the greatest of satisfaction to their customers. We are talking here about an embryonic era where the mobile telephone was still in its second generation stage.

But things have evolved so fast and unfortunately moving towards the wrong direction. The three major mobile telephone companies operating in the country have plunged into an economic warfare that takes little or no consideration for their customers. One of such wars is getting into newer network generations. Barely one or two years when they acquired the third generation (3G) network, two of them, notably Orange and MTN have already announced the acquisition of the next generation; 4G.

Newspapers and other media organs have been invaded with adverts on 4G, each of the companies claiming to be the first and the best to reach that stage. In many newspapers one will read something like this, “The First 4G is here. Now we’ve got the fastest internet. Switch to the first and only 4G Turbo network in Cameroon.” Getting into the 4G network in itself ought to signify a major step forward in Cameroon’s telecommunication system; but how then do Cameroonians celebrate the new dispensation when the quality of service rendered by the same companies keep degenerating almost on a daily basis. What makes for a 4G network to a customer is how fast and clear he sends and receives his calls. How fast he navigates on the internet and how cheap he gets his services.

The most disturbing thing is that instead of competing to provide better services to their customers, mobile telephone companies go fighting over network generations which they seem not to have acquired respecting existing regulations. In a press statement signed by the Telecommunication Regulatory Board, the said companies are reminded to provide services that correspond with their concessional agreements.

The statement says clearly that some aspects of the contract are still in process in order to render the 4G network effectively operational.Call it 4G, 5G or whatever; what is important to the customer is the quality of the services rendered. The story of how unstable mobile telephone network can disturb economic activities is better told by this young ambitious entrepreneur in Yaoundewho runs a drinking spot in one of the neighbourhoods. An important match of the European Championship is programmed between two giant teams. As usual, the gentleman knew his bar would be full of fans that would not only watch the mat

ch but buy drinks as well. The following day the bar is almost empty of drinks. He takes up his phone, tries to call the distribution centre for more drinks. No network. He tries several times, the same response. Finally, the guy gives up. At the end of the day, he assessed a loss of almost FCFA 45,000.

Many other customers will relate their own ordeal including the multiplicity of problems; overloaded networks, slow connections, sudden cuts during communication, inconvenient SMS, chance SMS, hazardous billing for calls and communication instability. It were better to provide good quality services without talking about network generations than talk about network generations without providing better quality services.

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