Ghana’s National Communications Authority (NCA) sanctioned MTN for failing to honour its commitments to quality of service requirements, resulting in dropped calls, poor sound quality and calls not connected.
The move comes as the west African country pushes for network operators to improve their service and take customers seriously, with residents of rural Ghana, even reportedly climbing trees or walking several kilometres to find sufficient network reception.
The NCA said in a statement that it would continue to undertake its regulatory duties with the consumer at heart.
“These punitive measures are intended to encourage the mobile network operators to adhere to the quality of service parameters as set out in their licence conditions, which will, in turn, result in an improved service experience for the consumer,” said the NCA.
The company's share price shrugged off the fine, rising 3.68percent on Friday to close at R89 a share.
The NCA also fined Vodafone, AirtelTigo and Glo, giving them a 30-day ultimatum to pay the combined fine of $7m.
The NCA said it regularly tested coverage, data, voice and speech quality compliance in the first quarter of the year and detected unplanned service outages in voice services.
The companies were required to address the infractions by the August 21, 2018 deadline.
“At the end of the deadline, the NCA embarked on a follow-up monitoring and found that some of the key performance indicators in some district capitals had improved, the mobile network operators were not able to meet the KPI thresholds as per their licences. The NCA as a result has sanctioned the network operators,” said the NCA.
It said although voice and data quality and coverage obligations were tested, these sanctions are focused on voice services only. MTN Ghana said it was deeply concerned about this development, considering the continuous network investments and improvements it had made.
“In the current financial year alone, MTN Ghana has committed Ghanaian cedi 749 million (R2.13bn) in capital expenditure,” said MTN Ghana.