8 January 2013

Ghana: Vodafone Breaks Silence On Fixed Broadband Row

Amidst continued misinformation surrounding its new fixed broadband (FBB) bundles, Vodafone Ghana has spoken out to give further clarification. The new revamped service which allows customers to choose from a range of internet bundles to suit their lifestyle has generated much debate.

This debate has been fuelled by a number of claims from some customers which range from lack of notification of these changes, abrupt disconnection without their consent and an unjustified price increase since there has been no improvement in the quality of service.

Customers also feel that allocating an internet allowance for each bundle is unfair and has led to demands that the company revert back to their old packages which charged according to internet speed, rather than bandwidth consumed.

In response to this, Tara Squire, Head of Consumer Marketing, gave further clarification at a media briefing on Vodafone's decision to revise their FBB packages.

On the subject of 'capping' he noted that previously, business customers using the fixed broadband service subscribed to the residential bundles which were specifically designed for home use.

Some consumers as well as businesses were accessing over a 750GB of data per month as compared to the 7 GB consumed by a majority of the home use customers. This distribution of bandwidth was unfair to the home user as it degraded their internet experience.

The new broadband bundles have been designed to suit every lifestyle including those who require a lot of bandwidth for either business or personal consumption. There is a fixed broadband package which offers an unlimited service specifically designed for high data consumption.

He said that some customers have hit back mainly because they insist on continuing to access large bandwidths at the same price as other home users. He also added that 'it is standard practice for ISPs to implement a fair usage system for their fixed broadband service.'

Tara Squire continued by asserting that Vodafone provided adequate notice to customers. As stated in the terms and conditions of their fixed broadband service, customers must be given 30 days notice of any changes to the service.

He shared that 30 days prior to the implementation, Vodafone took a number of steps to fully prepare and inform customers ahead of time. 'Existing fixed broadband customers received text messages to inform them about the imminent revisions. This was followed up by a call to all customers giving specific details of the changes to their terms and conditions.

Business customers were called personally to inform them of the changes. Those who did not want to be migrated onto the new business package were given the option to remain on the consumer package with the revised internet allowances.' he said. He also notes that the changes to the service were also posted on the Vodafone Ghana Facebook page and their website.

Customers who experienced an abrupt disconnection after the new internet packages were introduced had exhausted their internet allowance for the package they has subscribed to and needed to renew the package. He stated that while he understood their customers' bewilderment at the disconnection, Vodafone had made several efforts to alert all customers of the changes.

Tara further shared that, Vodafone had invested close to GHC 2 million in infrastructure to give customers faster internet connectivity and deliver a world-class fixed broad band service. 'It's a rollout plan which will take some time to reach all areas so customers may not yet experience the improved speeds reported by others. Our quality of service is also affected severely by issues such as cable thefts and road construction.

Addressing the complaint of poor customer service, Tara stated that the company had streamlined its faults response system to make their response to faults more efficient, with a majority of issues getting fixed within 14 days.

An online portal has also been created to enable customers apply and track their applications. Also, Vodafone has introduced broadband experts in key retail shops, to respond to queries and ensure engineers are on track with repairs.

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