Business and communication ground to a halt for a good part of yesterday following a service break down by two of the country’s telecommunications network operators, Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL) and TNM.
The development inconvenienced customers who were taken unawares as they failed to make business and personal communication, especially between the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe.
A customer of one of the affected operators complained in an interview about the problem, faulting his service provider for not communicating to the public and addressing the problem on time.
Said the customer: “My business has suffered today being a Monday where business transactions are bound to take place. We have not received any communication from our service provider on the issue and do not know how long it will take them to fix the problem, I can only hope for the better.”
Another posted on his Facebook page: “TNM, please fix your problem. I want to call important people. You say you are always with us, but you have let us down today, this being the case, change your slogan to towards being with you.”
Responding to an e-mailed questionnaire in light of the development, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) public relations officer Blessings Phumisa said the regulator had learnt about the development.
He said one of the service providers assured Macra of its commitment to have the problem fixed in due course.
Said Phumisa: “We have received communication from one of our licensed operators that there has been a fibre [cable] cut on both legs of MTL fibre ring between Blantyre and Lilongwe, which is affecting interconnection calls.
“Much as we appreciate this communication from one of our operators, we expect the service providers’ notification every time a fault occurs on their network and the measures taken in rectifying the same.”
He said Macra is currently in the process of finalizing fault handling regulations with respect to the handling and reporting of faults once they occur, hinting that they will be finalized after the last consultative meeting with the stakeholders.
TNM’s Sobhuza Ngwenya yesterday promised to get back to The Nation with an explanation. However, as we went to press last night he had not yet responded to our inquiry.
Other service providers, notably commercial banks, who rely on the MTL fibre backbone, were also affected as they were either offline or experienced
delayed transaction processing time.
Malawi’s telecommunications tariffs are ranked among the highest in the world. Yet, customers have often complained about poor service characterized by a high rate of dropped calls that do not match the charges.