Thursday, May 26, 2011

QCell roaming claims hangs in the balance

Barely six months after it started operations, precisely in December 2009, QCell claimed it is roaming all over the world with 550 partners in 208 countries worldwide. “This means that QCell has a minimum of one roaming partner in every country,” the company says.
QCell’s Chief Executive Officer Muhammed Jah described his company’s roaming service as a piece of innovation that exemplifies convenience and simplicity. Its reach is limited only by the number of countries in the world.
The 3G-plus company said its subscribers can now travel with their QCell lines to any country in the world and enjoy “QCell’s 3G calling facilities”.
However, many people who claimed to have visited the offices of the company to request for a roaming sim said this service claimed by the company to be providing to customers is to no avail.     
“Early this month, I went to the company’s head office to request for a roaming sim to enable me ‘to now travel with QCell line’ - as they put it - but it was not possible,” Musa Senghore, a businessman, said.
One of the customer care representatives of the company, a lady, told MarketPlace reporter that there are some issues with the company’s roaming service in Nigeria “at the moment”.
Another person who spoke to MarketPlace on the same note regarding the QCell roaming service was the news editor of The Voice newspaper, Modou S. Joof.
Mr Joof said he had also had problems accessing QCell roaming facility. “I don’t think they are roaming anywhere because when I was going to Ghana, I called their head office to enquire whether I can come and swap my sim card so that I can be roaming in Ghana but I was told the service is yet to be readily available in Ghana at that time.  This was early 2010, months after they claimed to be roaming,” he remarked.  
“They are the same people who went all out to tell people that they are roaming all over the world.  Why not they wait until they are fully operational all over the world before announcing they have a worldwide roaming facility, or they should have simply mentioned the countries they are roaming in and tell the public that they will very soon be roaming in other countries.”
Annam Jah, senior sales and marketing manager of QCell, denied the claim saying: “We have a lot of other customers who have used the roaming service outside The Gambia and it works properly for them. 
“There is no technical issue and I don’t know why you would be reporting on our roaming service. It’s always roaming fully without any problem.” 
QCell’s CEO Muhammed Jah once said that while GSM companies in the country take the trouble of mentioning countries they are roaming in, his company, QCell, would not mention countries since they “are roaming all over the world with at least one partner in every country”. 
This should mean that if there are some technical hiccups with one operator in a country they are roaming in, then the other operators should be functional so that people can still be roaming in those countries.
The other concern expressed many people in the country as regards QCell’s roaming facility is, just to swap a sim card a subscriber will have to go all the way to the company’s head office. “That is a trouble of its own,” said Edrissa Njie, national coordinator of Freedom House International – The Gambia Chapter, quoting the company as saying “QCell has come to ease the burden of those who spend valuable time, energy and resources seeking channels of communicating with their people when they are abroad.”
“However one starts to face problems with getting the roaming here, before travelling, as you have to travel all the way to the company’s head office in order to swap your sim card,” Mr Njie, who is also a senior staff writer with News and Report weekly magazine, added. 

“This means people outside the Kombos have to travel all the way from where they are to Kairaba Avenue - QCell head office, just to swap sim.  Instead of reducing the burden, it is in fact increasing it on people.” 

Our reporter, who called the QCell head office to verify the claims by Mr Njie and others was told by a customer care representative of QCell that “swapping is only done at the head office” [of the company].
The fact is that to be roaming does not need a subscriber to swap his or her sim: why is it that when a Nigerian comes with an MTN line to The Gambia, that line goes to instant roaming without the individual having to swap  his or her sim before coming to The Gambia. 
Subscribers expect that whatever is happening in other countries, especially in the sub-region, in terms of GSM development, could be made available or done for them in The Gambia, particularly from a company that prides itself to be “always innovative, and would never relent or compromise on standards”.
It is expected that if QCell is operating on 3G and having up and running roaming facility, it should be possible for one to have roaming facility in any country they find themselves, without having to go through the trouble of swapping sim card or configuring it.
“Gambians are expecting more from QCell as the company prides itself of keeping the people of this country abreast of the innovative changes in the world of GSM technology,” said Mr Njie.
QCell says its goal is to take The Gambia to the highest point in telecommunications technology, which has become part of the fabric of all modern economies.
This should mean that if GSM operators in other countries are not swapping sim in order to roam Gambians should also be saved of the trouble of swapping in order to roam?
 Source -

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