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24 February, at 08 : 19 AM Print
Telecom giant MTN Rwanda will compensate clients on its internet network to cover up for the disruptions caused by the breakdown of the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), MTN executives announced February 21.
The firm said February 19 that 80 percent of its traffic linked through Tanzania to the EASSy undersea was down. The problem had been detected between Djibouti and Port Sudan, which carries the majority of MTN international Internet traffic.
As a response, MTN’s CEO Khaled Mikkawi told a press conference today that as repairs continue on the cable, MTN traffic had been diverted to other providers like the TEAMS cable in Kenya.
However before the EASsy troubles – resulting into slow internet, Mikkawi said the firm had been experiencing some outages that were caused by upgrades on the network attributed to high usage on the 3G system. The company has been upgrading the data network.
“…after 3G upgrades, capacity will increase from 14Mbs to 21Mbs,” said the CEO.
MTN will implement a compensation plan to all data users once the upgrades are complete, said Mikkawi, but did not say the form that the compensation will take.
Reactions from the general public have indicated dissatisfaction over the past days, with complaints raised also from mobile phone users about the poor services from telecom companies. Industry regulator RURA said this week that it was probing MTN’s services – a move that followed a visit of the Prime Minister, Pierre Damien Habumuremyi to MTN.
But responding to a query on the issue, MTN CEO Mikkawi said RURA had not been probing the company as reported.
“RURA the regulator has been briefed on the disruption and upgrades on a daily basis,” said Mikkawi.
He said a vessel is at sea to repair the affected part of the EASsy cable.
MTN Rwanda, owned largely by South Africa-based MTN Group, enjoys the biggest market share with over 2.9 million subscribers. It however faces fierce competition from new entrants like TiGO (Luxemburg), which has now over 1.5million users.
RURA statistics indicate a total on over 4.4 million Rwandans using mobile phones, with a 41.3 percent penetration since November 2011.
There are only two communication companies in Rwanda, after the Libyan–owned Rwandatel lost its mobile licence. Its assets are on the verge of being sold off to pay off debts.
Rwandans are also excited about the coming of the third communication company Airtel-which is due to be launched this March, 2012. Airtel plans to roll out the 4G platform and could pose a threat to its would-be rivals, MTN and Tigo, who are still struggling with 3G.
MTN is also said to be faced with issues of becoming the latest centre for cyber attacks – with the site of the telecoms giant being one of the latest targets, according to IT magazine CIO EAST AFRICA.
The firm’s CEO apologised to the high-end clients. BlackBerry user could have been affected by EASSy and RIM outages, he said at the press briefing. “MTN takes full responsibility.”