The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) wishes to respond to the erroneous contents of an article “PURA ASKS GSM COMPANIES TO STOP MAKING FALSE 4G CLAIMS” published on Friday the 12th of October 2018 in the Standard Newspaper. PURA strongly refutes claims attributed to its Director General in the said story and hereby informs the general public that 4G LTE technology was deployed in The Gambia by QCell and Africell upon approval by PURA after a technical due diligence through analysis and evaluation.
The newspaper story claimed to have derived the statements from the responses of Director General Sanneh during PURA’s presentation of its Annual Reports and Financial Statements for 2015 and 2016 at the Public Enterprises Committee (PEC) of the National Assembly on the 9th and 10th of October, 2018. Again, PURA wishes to state that the Director General did not respond to the questions of neither Hon. Salifu Jawo nor to the follow up question of Hon. Alagie Jawara on these issues, as it was the Director of ICT and Acting Director of Consumer Affairs who provided sufficient and apt responses to the questions.
During the Questions and Answer Session, Hon. Salifu Jawo asked whether PURA has mechanism in place to confirm 4G technology services providers claimed to have, because access to 4G services outside the GBA is impossible, making it impossible for him to read and respond to urgent messages when he is in his constituency Jokadou. Also, he quizzed why PURA permits deployment of 3G and 4G technologies only in the GBA. On his part, Hon. Jawara asked for reasons operators put nationwide coverage in their advertisement when that was not the case.
In his response to the Honourable Members, the Director of ICT informed that PURA had developed Guidelines for Deployment of New Technologies which makes it obligatory for operators to inform PURA of new technologies prior to deployment. He revealed that PURA had done technical due diligence by analysing and evaluating QCELL and AFRICELL’s 4G-LTE network infrastructure and service delivery systems including benchmarked compliance with the 4G-LTE standards defined by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) before approving their deployments. The tests during technical analysis and evaluation were not limited to the equipment technical parameters but included consumer experience of 4G-LTE, download and upload speed tests, latency, browsing and video streaming tests. After deployment also PURA carried out monitoring exercise to confirm it. He categorically informed that as far as PURA is concerned, the 4G LTE technologies deployed by both QCELL and AFRICELL are compliant with International standards.
On the question on 4G coverage, Director also noted that 4G coverage is not available countrywide but was deployed in Basse and Farafenni and many parts in the GBA since it was first rolled out in 2017 in The Gambia. He concluded by recommending that mobile phone devices should not be locked to one technology but should be set on auto search mode so that it can seamlessly latch onto the strongest signal / technology depending on the area one is at a particular point in time.
On the question of misleading advertisement, Acting Director of Consumer Affairs, acknowledged that operators make claims of having nationwide coverage without specifying what types of technologies they have deployed nationwide. He cited a complaint on the usage of the words “the real 4G” and “the Only 4G operator” which were misleading, and the concerned operators were ordered to pull down those adverts.
PURA strongly takes exception to the said story which carried statements contrary to the statements of its two staff at the PEC session and, to worsen the situation, attributed those statements to the Director General who did not provide such responses to the questions from the Honourable Members. PURA cannot, and will never, inform the public that there are no 4G LTE technology in the Gambia because it had endorsed QCELL and AFRICELL’s 4G Technologies deployment in The Gambia.
In conclusion, PURA extends its gratitude to the Government, Operators and Consumers who are its three constituents for their cooperation and support..