Dar es Salaam — The Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has slapped telecommunications companies with a fine totaling Sh5.9 billion for failing to adhere to rules on quality of services.
According to Dr Philip Filikunjombe, the TCRA head of Enforcement and Compliance, companies failed to meet conditions set in their operations licence, as well as failure to provide quality services in accordance with the Electronic and Postal Communications (Quality of Service) Regulations 2018.
The fined companies include Airtel Tanzania (fined Sh1.6 bilion) and the Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation Ltd (TTCL; fined Sh1.6 billion).
Other fined firms were Viettel Tanzania (Halotel - fined Sh900 million), Zanzibar Telecom (Sh850 million), MIC Tanzania (Tigo - fined Sh500 million) and Vodacom Tanzania (Sh450 million).
He said the Authority's quality service testing for the months of July, August and September this year showed that the companies failed to meet some of the criteria for quality services.
He said TCRA has fined the companies in accordance with the law in order to ensure that they are accountable by providing services according to conditions set by the Authority so as to ensure customers get value for their money.
Some of the criteria they are required to meet are network availability, call connections failure rate, call drops rate, audio voice quality and sms service accessibility, as well as sms access delay.
He said Regulation 20 of the Electronic and Postal Communications (Quality of Service) Regulations 2018 states that any telecommunication company that fails to meet the criteria will be fined not less than Sh5 million on each criterion that they fail to meet - and a fine of Sh5 million on each day that they fail to provide quality services.
He said quality testing is a continuous process that is done every month - and that statements on the type of service provided are issued on a quarterly basis.
"The punishment is as a result of the statement issued in the first quarter of financial year 2019/20 covering the months of July, August and September," he said.
TCRA had on February 26, 2016 fined the telecommunication companies for failure to meet criteria then.
He said the decision is to ensure the companies invest more in the quality of service they provide so as to protect consumers - and bring positive development to the sector.
"Apart from the punishment, we are also directing the companies to take measures to ensure that they provide quality services according to the set conditions," he said.
He said TCRA will continue to take stern measures against companies that go against the regulations to ensure quality services are provided.
This is being reported as only about three weeks remain for all mobile telecoms subscribers to biometrically register their SIM cards.
Earlier reports by TCRA showed that nearly 20 million SIM cards out of 43 million were yet to be registered biometrically, as of mid-December this year, as many people were lacking National Identity documentation.
The offices of the National Identification Authority (Nida) are currently flooded with people, seeking to acquire IDs to finalise the registration of their SIM cards.
The deadline for SIM cards registration was earlier set for tomorrow, but President John Magufuli recently extended it by 20 more days.