Thursday, January 3, 2013


Subscribers welcome QCell’s suspension of free calls

Mobile phone users in Zimbabwe in what appears to be a free-call fiesta (Photo: John Mokwetsi)
Dialing… Call ended! Hello can you call back? The line is not clear! 
Since 2010, subscribers to the mobile telephony company QCell have to make do with boring and time consuming attempts to make calls at night on Saturdays and Sundays, whether for free or not.

To provide better quality of service in 2013, QCell will suspend the free weekend call service until further notice, the company announces in several texts messages sent to clients on Dec. 31, 2012, while wishing them a happy new year.

That was a perfect new year present, says Pa Modou Njie. I really welcome the idea. If we as subscribers are given free calls and can’t make the best of it, it is wise to not only suspend it but stop it all together.
It has always been very difficult to make calls at night during weekend, what is more annoying is that even if you are not on free call and have your account recharged you will still be compelled to bear the pain of not being able to make calls, the Latrikunda German resident said.

“It’s better for them to concentrate on improving and upgrading their services so as to be providing better services which they said is the reason for this impromptu decision,” Lamin Jahateh said. 

“With the free call, to make a call becomes a nightmare. So it’s better to stop it and improve their services so that people can make calls swiftly,” added Jahateh, a native of Essau and publisher of a leading blog, Gambia News Online

Mr. Jahateh, who has made QCell his favourite, even realised that when he is on free call during the weekend often text messages he sent are not delivered though on your phone it will indicates “message sent” and you will only know your message is not delivered through the “delivery report notification” that is, if you have activated it. 

I think it is good that the free weekend calls are suspended, said Nfamara Camara, who is reading development studies at the University of The Gambia. It increases demand and hinder most of the weekend calls at night even if you have credit in your SIM (subscriber identity module card).

I hope the suspension will also increase efficiency by reducing the usually high demand on the network during weekend. The poor service delivery is as a result of the weekend free call, the New Jewhwang resident said.   

A credit seller in Serekunda also told this blog that there are times she loses because the poor network does not allow her to send credit to clients.

However, an independent observer sees things differently. I am not even surprise that they stopped the free call, it was just a market penetration strategy, he said. All other mobile phone companies have done the same, just differently.  

“At first, when they were newly coming into the market, QCell subscribers can make calls in the weekend and on a daily basis from 9pm to 7am, all for free,” he told The North Bank Evening Standard. “After some months they said you have to buy D25 credit in order to qualify for the free weekend call. After some months they increased it to D50 credit.”  

“Early 2012, they increased it to D75 to qualify for the free call and of recent they increased to D100,” added the observer who patronizes all four GSM companies in The Gambia. “So if you follow the trend of the free call you can even make conclusion from the beginning that this is just a marketing gimmick but it’s not going to last.  So I am not surprised in any way that this free call is suspended.”  

Established in 2009, QCell prides itself for being the country’s first third generation (3G) mobile telephony company.

The Company, the newest of four global systems for mobile communication (GSM) services providers in The Gambia was hailed as “the cheapest” by President Yahya Jammeh in 2010.  

On March 1, 2012, the company claimed it had launched the country’s first 4G network. “BREAKING NEWS! QCell launches The Gambia’s FIRST 4G network. QCell, leaders in Innovation and Quality,” it said in a series of text messages amid growing competition.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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