Business News of Thursday, 3 January 2013
Vodafone Ghana has explained the rationale for capping its fixed broadband internet service at GH¢65.00, saying the hitherto lower price and unlimited data service was not economically viable and does not give value for money.
Vodafone in June last year, revised its broadband fixed service, which was going for GH¢45.00 for an unlimited use of data per month and capped the price at GH¢65 in addition to limiting the amount of data usage to 15GB per month.
The new revamped fixed broadband service allows customers to choose from a range of internet bundles to suit their lifestyles.
In the past few months, the introduction of the “capping” has generated much debate from various categories of Vodafone fixed broadband users, some of which had staged demonstrations.
The debate, Vodafone believes had been fuelled by a number of claims from some customers, which range from lack of notification of these changes, abrupt disconnection without their consent and an unjustified price increase since there has been no improvement in the quality of service.
“Customers also feel that allocating an internet allowance for each bundle is unfair and has led to demands that the company revert back to their old packages, which charged according to internet speed rather than bandwidth consumed,” Vodafone said.
Clarifying the issue to journalists on Wednesday, Mr Tara Squire, Head of Consumer Marketing, said previously, business customers using the fixed broadband service subscribed to the residential bundles, which were specifically designed for home use.
Some consumers as well as businesses, he said, were accessing over a 750GB of data per month as compared to the 7GB consumed by a majority of the home use customers. “This distribution of bandwidth was unfair to the home user as it degraded their internet experience,” he added.
Providing further information on the new service, Mr Squire said that the new broadband bundles had been designed to suit every lifestyle including those, who require a lot of bandwidth for either business or personal consumption.
He said there is a fixed broadband package, which offers an unlimited service specifically designed for high data consumption and that some customers had hit back mainly because they insisted on continuing to access large bandwidths at the same price as other home users.
Mr Squire added that:“It is standard practice for ISPs to implement a fair usage system for their fixed broadband service.”
On whether Vodafone Ghana gave customers enough notification, he said, they were provided with adequate notice before the new development of the capping took place.
He said 30 days prior to the implementation, Vodafone took a number of steps to fully prepare and inform customers ahead of time. “Existing fixed broadband customers received text messages to inform them about the imminent revisions. This was followed up by a call to all customers giving specific details of the changes to their terms and conditions.
“Business customers were called personally to inform them of the changes. Those who did not want to be migrated onto the new business package were given the option to remain on the consumer package with the revised internet allowances,” he said.
Vodafone said customers who experienced an abrupt disconnection after the new internet packages were introduced had exhausted their internet allowance for the package they had subscribed to and needed to renew the package.
Mr Squire said Vodafone had invested close to GH¢200 million in infrastructure to give customers faster internet connectivity and deliver a world-class fixed broad band service.
“It’s a rollout plan which will take some time to reach all areas so customers may not yet experience the improved speeds reported by others. Our quality of service is also affected severely by issues such as cable thefts and road construction.”
Addressing the complaint of a poor customer service, Mr Squire said the company had streamlined its faults response system to make their response to faults more efficient, with a majority of issues getting fixed within 14 days.
An online portal has also been created to enable customers apply and track their applications. Also, Vodafone has introduced broadband experts in key retail shops, to respond to queries and ensure engineers are on track with repairs.
Mr Squire concluded by saying ‘Notwithstanding factors such as cable theft and road construction which are often out of our control, but which impacts our delivery of quality service to our customers, we remain totally committed to our vision to become Ghana’s data supplier of choice.
“We have ensured that we give our customers the best value for money at all times when it comes to our fixed broadband service. We believe that these new packages are fair to all parties involved and would allow us to continue to invest in the fixed broadband business and provide a world class service.”