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OUR concerned about quality of telecoms service

Thursday, November 14, 2019

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DIRECTOR general of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) Ansord Hewitt says the agency expects network upgrades by local telecommunications firms, Digicel and Flow, to be carried out with minimum dislocation to customers.

Hewitt told a meeting with the companies last week that the OUR is already taking steps to ensure that it is able to independently verify key performance indicators of service quality.

He said that the OUR is aware that service disruptions are continuing, and pointed out that the organisation will use its resources to ensure that the source of the issues are identified and fixed in as short a time as possible, so as to mitigate the harm being done to consumers and businesses.

Hewitt made it clear that the OUR had serious concerns about the current service levels, and what appears to be a lack of diligence in their resolution.

Digicel's Chief Operating Officer Brian Bennett-Easy, in a response last weekend, said that the service issues being experienced by its customers resulted from the implementation of a modernisation programme which began two years ago.

He said that the company is upgrading its infrastructure to transition to a more up-to-date telecommunications technology and, ultimately, to provide improved service quality.

Digicel asserted that it was the modernisation works that have resulted in service disruption to customers, but that after the upgrading is completed, customers should experience little to no significant disruption in service and should also see improvements in the quality of the service.

“All of this work is focused on transforming the customer experience and delivering unprecedented levels of service,” said Bennett-Easy.

He noted that though there may be issues from specific locations where upgrades continue to take place, network indicators show that service quality has been steadily improving.

“In keeping with its long-standing collaboration with the OUR on improving the customer experience, Digicel has also agreed to provide quarterly updates to the regulator on key network performance indicators and service improvement initiatives,” he added.

In its response on Friday, Flow's Country Manager Stephen Price said his company has undertaken a comprehensive review of its mobile and fixed networks as part of improvement plans to address recent service delivery issues.

He said Flow is already carrying out upgrades to its mobile network to provide more enhanced and widespread coverage, and that preparatory work on its fixed network is scheduled to get under way before the end of the year, with the main projects scheduled to begin in early 2020.

“We know that what currently exists is not the quality of service that our customers expect from us, and for this, we apologise,” Price said.

In the meantime, Hewitt said the OUR will continue to push for powers to quickly impose and enforce sanctions for customer service breaches, in any future enactment or amendment of information and communication technology legislation.

“The OUR is also urging customers that where their service contracts provide for rebates in the event of prolonged service disruption, they should insist on receiving them. Any refusal to honour such obligations should be reported to the OUR,” Hewitt added.


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