The National Chairman of the National Association of Telecommunications Consumers (NATELCO) is urging the Liberia Telecommunications Authority, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and service providers to double up their efforts on addressing challenges faced by consumers in Liberia especially the rural parts of the Country.
Mr. Bartholomew Wilson said there is a need for serious attention to be given to consumers of services that are provided by the various GSM Companies including rural dwellers.
He maintained that it is unfortunate and unfair to those in the rural parts of Liberia that cannot access the services provided by the GSM Companies such as internet and mobile money services among others.
According to him, it is not only unfair, but it poses some security risks for a pregnant woman in rural areas who needs an ambulance and cannot make a call because of bad network condition.
He noted that revenue generation does not only depend on outgoing calls that originate from rural communities pointing out that people within rural Liberia have friends, relatives and families in Monrovia and even out of Liberia who can help to offset some of those costs associated.
Mr. Wilson also stressed the need for the GSM Companies to improve on the services they are offering their customers.
He said the issue of decentralization of service centers by service providers is a key issue and NATELCO believes that those service providers should have service centers in the Counties in which they have their services in order for consumers to be able to channel their complaints.
The NATELCO Boss further asserted that telecommunication services do not go on break and because phone or communication does not go on break or sleep, they think that the offices of the service providers be open 24/7.
“It is unfortunate that if I have a problem with my SIM Card that is blocked on a Friday evening, I have to wait until Monday morning to have that resolved, it’s quite unfortunate. Though we have the 111 services, even with the 111 services it only operates within the working hours and on working days, we think it is also unfair to the consumers” he lamented.
He also warned GSM Companies against what he termed as deceptive advertisements they continue to put out.
Bartholomew Wilson argued that one of such is the three days free call which is good and nobody wants to take it away, but it is not free in the sense of being free because it says one thing and means another thing, therefore; it should be discouraged.
On the other hand, Wilson said people are complaining of their phones being inundated by unsolicited text messages sometimes causing them to miss out on important text messages because they have adverts and unsolicited text messages going to their phones.
“And every time you see something your phone notifies you, you get to know that it is LoneStar MTN, the Orange people and then you missed an important message,” he said.
He also narrated that quality of service issues are still key with network fluctuation almost all parts of Liberia and inconsistent coverage across the Country, but expressed that NATELCO is willing to continuously work with service providers and LTA to be a help in resolving those challenges.
Mr. Wilson however, said Liberia is far behind in achieving the goal that was set up in 2003 when the World summit on information society was first held in Geneva to make sure that in the next 5-10 years every village in the World is connected to the rest of the World.
“In 2003 when the World summit on information society was first held in Geneva, resolution there was to make sure that in the next 5-10 years every village in the World will be connected to the rest of the World, but15-years after it is so unfortunate that Liberia is still far behind in achieving that goal” he explained.
He made the assertion at a daylong consumer forum organized by the Liberia Telecommunications Authority held at the Kakata City Hall recently.