What is Wrong With MTN Data Bundles? Top story

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MTN subscribers have expressed increasing dissatisfaction with the largest telecom's services David Tumusiime

MTN subscribers have expressed increasing dissatisfaction with the largest telecom's services Login to license this image from 1$.

In short
MTN immediately responded, apologising to customers and refunding some of the affected customers. MTN has about 3.4 million data customers in Uganda, making it the largest mobile internet service in Uganda. MTN to date has not revealed what is actually going on, but keeps apologising to customers.

Uganda's largest telecom by subscriber numbers, MTN has been in the eye of a storm from internet users who are accusing it of cheating. Outraged by the services, some customers among them Amanya Justus led the petition against the telecom company.  On social media, customers also took to twitter with the hash tag #OccupyMTN and #stopMTNgonya to cry foul over the services.
 
MTN immediately responded, apologising to customers and refunding some of the affected customers. MTN has about 3.4 million data customers in Uganda, making it the largest mobile internet service in Uganda. MTN to date has not revealed what is actually going on, but keeps apologising to customers.
 
"MTN and its data platform Vendors have over the last three weeks been fully engaged in identifying the cause of the problem," the company said in a press statement.
 
The company claims only 7,800 have been affected by the outage but without giving specifics on why it is just them.
 
Sam Agona, an Engineer and IT Consultant points out that MTN with its many subscribers may not be able to handle the demand for services.
 
"Systems are not scaling fast enough to meet the numbers and the increased daily user demands," he tells URN. 
 
Adding that "such failures are common when a company is undergoing changes, such as mergers, drastic increase in user consumption patterns or change in subscription numbers."
 
Using the USSD code, *150*1# to buy data bundles, customers were unable to purchase with a message, "sorry service interruption, try again later." As a result, kept trying to load data services; when the service was restored it resulted into multiple data bundle activation and charges followed on.
 
In the petition, they highlighted that there was "failed activation, inaccurate data bundle billing, bundle charged but not activated."
 
David Okwii, a communications engineer and co-founder of the tech news publisher, Diginited Uganda rules out incompetence and the interruptions being deliberate but rather insists MTN may have been overwhelmed.
 
"I think MTN has failed to scale their infrastructure for cater for their growing customer user base. There's also a possibility that they are trying to switch from one software vendor to another, in the process incurring system hiccups resulting in downtime," he tells URN.
 
James Wire is an IT Professional and Board Member of ICT Association of Uganda who tells URN that there are changes within MTN that maybe affecting its performance.
 
"An inside look into the company reveals that they are currently in the process of retrenching all their IT staff in preference for an outsourcing venture that will bring in expatriates," Wire says. This ideally wouldn't cause problems, but Wire points to apathy within the company due to this decision.
 
MTN Uganda could not be reached for a comment, as they requested for more time to have our questions answered.
 
Uganda Communication Commission, the regulator also remains tight-lipped as our requests for a comment went unanswered.
 
Such outages are not unique to MTN Uganda though.  In early November, as MTN was experiencing trouble with its USSD, so was Orange Uganda. With Orange, customers for at least 24hours were not able to load data and internet bundles by USSD. MTN's took longer.
 
Wire says that even when MTN's system was down, the competition did not take advantage.
 
"Not even Airtel is able to give MTN a run for its money despite its goofs. Just the other day when MTN's MM was down, many of us migrated to Airtel MM to transact and the system crashed."
 
Customers will continue to bear the brunt of such outages. Unlike unsolicited messages, the data outage does actually cause financial losses to customers. This financial loss cannot be quantified at this stage.
 
Okwii points out that for service providers, there is need to engage customers when there are problems with the system. "Proper communication channels should be established in which networks should be honest with their customers as opposed to concealing information to themselves and coming off arrogant," he says.

MTN declined to comment for this article despite repeated requests. 

 

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