The Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) says the operationalisation of the Universal Access Fund (UAF), awaits the passing of the revised Communications Bill by parliament.
UAF is part of the revised Communications Bill, and once enacted, it will allow MACRA to roll out programmes that enhance the provision of universal ICT access by facilitating extended coverage to rural and under-served areas.
Responding to an emailed questionnaire, Communications Officer for Macra, Clara Mulonya said the authority has been urging operators to improve on their service provision.
According to Mulonya, operators have been optimizing their networks to improve the quality of services provided to subscribers.
“However, MACRA sees more room for improvement and is constantly engaging Operators through the Quality of Service reports that are produced at the end of every quarter,” said Mulonya.
On the criteria used on license renewals for mobile operators, Mulonya said the regulatory body renews licenses based on performance.
“The measurement is over an average period (i.e. quarterly) and the Quality of Service parameters provide for consideration where failure is outside the control of the licensee,” she said.
Airtel Malawi public relations manager Edith Tsirizani said the company is working on upgrading and broadening its network coverage to meet its customers’ expectations.
Said Tsirizani “It’s an ongoing investment, the company has been installing solar towers to cope with the current blackouts and in areas where there are no electricity. You might have observed of late that Airtel network has improved and the percentage of call drop outs has drastically gone down.”
Once the UAF is enacted, a specialized committee will be responsible for the evaluation of areas that are currently not served by mobile telephony services and to determine how much investment will be required to supply such communities.
Under the scheme, subsidies will be offered to telecom operators as an incentive to roll out services to un-served and rural areas.