The plethora of adverts by each of the four mobile telephone service providers in the country is an indication of the strides made to bring telephone services closer to the population both in the urban and rural areas. Network coverage has expanded and covers most rural and frontier towns. However, the increase of scope does not seem to have been accompanied by a significant increase in quality of delivery. Users still complain of network saturation, poor internet connectivity and fluctuation networks which make it difficult to make a call or browse on the internet.
The problem is so serious that it leads to significant damages especially when emergency services cannot be reached. Recently in the Manguier neighbourhood in Yaounde, a fire broke out in a neighbour’s house. He dialled the number of the fire brigade but network fluctuation made the call not to go through till about 30, minutes when the house was almost completely reduced to ashes. In a country where mobile telephone service providers only concentrate on the race of switching generations and fail to work on improving the quality of the network, only the regime stands to blame.
It’s more than a year since some mobile telephone service providers switched to 3G and others to 4G. Users say no change is felt is quality of telephone or internet signals. Recurrent inconsistencies in network coverage have made many Cameroonians miss several business opportunities both at home and abroad. There are times Cameroonians have a business deal and they call and receive a message telling them the number you have called frequently was incorrect or not available. Calling Cameroon from Europe is even more interesting. In most of the times, the answering machine in our mobile telecom providers back home tells you that you do not have enough credit to call the said number.
While some users are not sure of the effectiveness of the switch over to 3G and to 4G, the Telecommunications Regulatory Board affirms that the companies have effectively switched but the problems lies at the level of updating transmission lines. It could be true from a CPDM perspective.
The Sub Director of Evaluation and Technical control at the Telecommunications Regulatory Board, Benjamin Minko said “the switch over requires that a lot of technical installations be upgraded to 3G. The current broadcast equipment is overloaded and optical fibre is absolutely needed”.
The several transmission lines in Yaoundé are far from solving the frustrations that erupt when users wait endlessly and unsuccessfully after many tries to place an urgent call. Consumers are now looking on the operator and the Head of State for a way out especially as the demand for internet and telephone services will significantly increase during the Women’s African Cup of Nations that Cameroon coming up in November.