Further penalties likely as network quality unimproved; Azur best of bad bunch

15 Feb 2013

Following an audit of the country’s four mobile networks in December 2012-January 2013, Gabon’s Regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications and Posts (ARCEP) has concluded that quality of service has continued to degrade despite fines and warnings issued to all four cellcos last year, reports Agence Ecofin. In the survey, Middle East-backed Azur Gabon, the youngest of the quartet of operators, reportedly came out on top in terms of quality of voice services in Libreville, Port Gentil, provincial capitals and in rural areas. ARCEP said its results showed a continuous degradation in network service quality over the course of five audits beginning in 2010. In March 2012 Airtel Gabon, Moov Gabon Libertis (part of Gabon Telecom) and Azur were fined a combined total of XAF3.7 billion (USD7.6 million) following a previous audit. Mombo Lin, president of ARCEP, said that the regulator is now considering the appropriate remedial action to take ‘in addition to financial penalties’.

In related news, the country’s largest cellco by subscribers and revenues, Airtel Gabon, has disclosed that its GSM/GPRS network now covers ‘85% of the national territory’, after ‘approximately XAF50 billion investment in the purchase of equipment, modernisation and expansion of the network across the country.’ TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the cellco’s last confirmed network coverage figure was 80% in mid-2008.