Dropped calls drive me mental

Is it just me or are the cellular networks dropping a lot more calls than usual? In the past, the occasional dropped call was a nuisance but, all things considered, not a problem. After all, the mere fact that we could phone a friend while driving down the highway at a 100km an hour was remarkable in itself.

However, lately, the cellular networks seem to be resting on their considerably overstuffed laurels. I’m not sure what the problem is, but I am currently experiencing a dropped call rate of about 1 in 3 and that is simply not acceptable. And it’s not just a problem with my phone. It seems that everywhere I go, I hear the constant refrain, ‘Can you hear me? Can you hear me now? How about now?’

As proof of this, recently, the cell phone companies were hauled before ICASA to explain themselves in this regard. The main complaint was that, if the networks cannot handle the current call volumes, then how are they going to manage the increased amount of voice traffic expected during the World Cup?

The cell phone companies did not seem to present any viable solutions to this problem and, in some cases, denied that it was a problem at all. But the worst part of it is that there is simply no incentive for the networks to improve their service. Each dropped call usually results in a follow up call, incurring a second charge on your bill. So, the more dropped calls there are, the more money the cell phone companies make. It’s institutionalised robbery.

My suggestion would be to force the cell phone companies to reverse the charges of any calls that are immediately followed up by a second call to the same number, say within a time frame of ten seconds. This way, the consumer will not have to pay twice for a service that is already expensive by international standards.

This may not be the most appealing solution for the networks who will doubtlessly fight tooth and nail to maintain their impressive profit margins. However, I am gatvol of being penalised for the networks’ inability to deliver on their service promises. We get enough of that from Eskom, or Telkom, or the SABC.

So, cell phone users of the world unite! Or else we will all spend the next few years holding our cell phones in the air and shouting ‘how about now?’. IMHO.

[Originally posted 11/06/2009]

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