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Subscribers threaten to dump MTN

By: Charles Lotara

Disgruntled subscribers to the Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) have stormed the company’s offices in Juba Tuesday morning over a network breakdown, with many threatening to shift to other mobile operators.

Without an official notification from telecommunication network as to what was transpiring, registered subscribers were suddenly unable to either receive and make calls, or surf the internet – despite the network showing full bars at some point.

Visibly angry subscribers who spoke to Juba Monitor over what they called a clear manifestation of poor services that MTN has been rendering said they were fed up with the way the mobile operator handles customers.

“We have been very loyal to MTN. However, what we have experienced from yesterday till today (Tuesday) morning leaves us with nearly no option but to register on another network,” said Bol Deng Tiir, who has been a subscriber for four years.

Malua Mangar expressed discontent over the inconvenience caused, saying he could not communicate an issue that came urgently to his relatives because the network was down.

“I could see full bars standing but I couldn’t make or receive calls. I was not even getting notifications from my social media accounts, I thought the problem was with my phone because MTN did not notify us of a fault like they always do when they upgrade their system,” he said.

A number of people affected had to go through some computerized processes and internal phone system settings to get services restored, a technical solution that can hardly be provided by an ordinary subscriber.

MTN also came under heavy criticisms from web savvies who said staff from the South African-owned multinational company steal internet data from their subscribers.

“The services breakdown yesterday was just one of the ridiculous things they are doing to their customers.

“In terms of internet services they are doing dismally. If you buy a weekly data bundle worth 85SSP it gets used up under less than four hours even if you did not browse large files. I once went to their office in connection with this issue and they confessed stealing subscribers’ bundle,” Achiro Salma, a lady who has moved to other mobile service providers told Juba Monitor.

When contacted for comments, Stephen James from MTN communication department declined, saying he was attending a meeting.

Formerly known as M-Cell, the cellular service provider headquartered in South African capital Johannesburg has been offering outstanding services to the citizens of South Sudan since its establishment, but that stance seems to be changing.

As MTN widens its base to different parts of the country, they are yet to convince customers that they can replace the vanquished telecommunication rival Vivacell, whose services are still reminisced by a vast majority of citizens.

“With Vivacell we were able to communicate even when we were deep in the village. Now with MTN you can hardly talk to a relative in the village without network interruption, and that’s a boring thing,” said another subscriber who withheld his identity.

The extinction of Vivacell and GemTel left South Sudan with only two telecommunication service providers, which are MTN and Zain. Unavailability of reliable rivals leave citizens with limited options but to shift in between the two, despite a similar quality of service delivery as claimed by dual subscribers.

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