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Vodacom South Africa Refuses to Refund Over BlackBerry Connectivity Issues

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cell_towerJOHANNESBURG, South AfricaReports from MyBroadband have uncovered consumer complaints on Vodacom – the service provider for some BlackBerry users – who should provide refunds for poor service levels. Apparently, the network has had service issues since May of 2009, and some subscribers have been granted partial refunds on their subscriptions.

Service levels can be affected by many causes, including Radio Frequency transmission and reception, congestion on the network, and even atmospheric conditions. RF issues are usually temporary, and can be solved by moving to a better reception area, or upgrades to the RF network which are continual. Network congestion is a traffic jam, which can be relieved by increasing capacity (widening the road), having the user wait until the jam clears, or cutting back service to all users to increase data flow. Occasionally, storms or other weather issues can cause problems with the network, such as flooding equipment vaults, or lightning strikes on key equipment.

The most expensive part of the network to upgrade is the data backbone which carries all the calls and data such as text and e-mail. When a large number of users hit the network at the same time, slow downs occur. The design of the network is based on a certain number of users, passing an estimated amount of data. BlackBerry owners are heavy users, and one could guess that the network designers underestimated the volume of data that had to be carried, leaving users short of their expectations. Upgrading the backbone is not a quick and easy fix, like adding new antennas to a cell tower. It involves adding new data paths which could be fiber optic or microwave links, which means obtaining and installing the equipment. Not an overnight solution.

An unidentified subscriber on the Vodacom-BlackBerry network suggests that Vodacom should publicly apologize, and refund six months of data plan fees to all subscribers.

Vodacom claims that not all subscribers were affected by poor service, and that they are committed to investigate each claim individually to determine whether a refund is required. Unconfirmed reports of a capacity upgrade that went into service on October 24, rectified the issue.

If you are a BIS customer that has experienced poor service write to customercare@vodacom.co.za for resolution.

Image courtesy MobileBeyond

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By , RIM-affairs Correspondent on Dec 11th, 2009 GMT +2

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