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2005-06-21 16:36:54

BTC Fails To Deliver Prepaid GSM Services

In a public notice on Monday, BTC said the company was experiencing interruptions in its prepaid wireless services and that every effort was being made to rectify the problem and restore service to subscribers.

Many Bahamas Telecommunications Company customers using the Global System for Mobile Communications Network (GSM) had a difficult time trying to make cell phone calls over the weekend as the system experienced trouble.

The whole situation had some subscribers expressing great frustrations and concerns regarding whether their cell phones would work in the event of emergencies.

While the system experienced problems during thunderstorms over the weekend, a BTC official said that the weather itself was not the cause of the trouble, but the fact that many users were using the service all at once.

Some GSM clients said they were still having difficulty using their cell phones on Monday.

They called on BTC to either shut down the network, or discontinue charging service fees to subscribers until a closer examination of the network is conducted and the system is fully operational.

In a public notice on Monday, BTC said the company was experiencing interruptions in its prepaid wireless services and that every effort was being made to rectify the problem and restore service to subscribers.

The statement came as some subscribers were lodging their complaints.

Melanie Thurston, one BTC customer, said that she is fed up with the inconsistencies of the network.

"I have been having a lot of problems with the GSM system and this weekend was the worst," Ms. Thurston said. "I do not know if it was because of the rain, but I think that they need to put the GSM system on hold until they have ironed out all the kinks.

"Persons try to call you and you do not receive the call or you try to call someone and do not get through. It is a major problem, especially this weekend where it was storming outside and I had no electricity or phone. I expect for my cell phone to be fully operational in situations like that."

Marvin Hepburn, who is also a GSM subscriber, also recommended that BTC shut down the system until it is fully operational. He said that it was very frustrating reaching loved ones over the weekend.

"I do have a GSM cell phone and it was very hectic this weekend using that system because I could not get in contact with a number of key persons in my life because the system was down," Mr. Hepburn said.

"With the GSM service, first of all they need to get it up so that we can speak to each other in the Family Islands, like when we travel to the Family Islands, because the system does not work on the Family Islands.

"I think that they need to give the people the benefit of the doubt where if they are not having any services they should not be forced to pay and they need to shut the system down and get it working fully."

Terez Culmer, a GSM customer, said that she too had problems with the system. She called for BTC to refund monies paid by its subscribers for GSM services.

"The GSM service this weekend was bad," Ms. Culmer said. "I kept checking it and checking it and still could not get through.

"The system is not working properly and they still want to charge you $5 at the end of every month and $0.05 for each text. I think that they need to fix this system or give the people back their money. This has been going on for too long now, and they need to get their act together.

"When everything shuts down your cell [is] supposed to be the only thing that works. How could they charge so much for something that works when it wants to?"

Sheena Bowleg, a senior public relations officer at BTC, blamed the weekend interruptions on surges and strains on the system experienced when a number of subscribers log onto the system at the same time.

BTC officials also apologized to the public for any inconvenience caused.

By: Perez Clarke, The Bahama Journal

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