MALAYSIAN consumers lost tens of millions of ringgit annually as a result of unsatisfactory services from their telecommunications providers, said a consumer affairs group. According to the National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC) annual reports, customers lost RM16 million in 2016 and RM15.87 million in 2017 from telco-related issues, said senior manager for legal and policy matters Shabana Naseer Ahmad.The losses stemmed from billing disputes, roaming charges disputes, broadband and mobile internet services, unsolicited messages and wrong charges.Last week, Eastern Analytica reported a high level of consumer dissatisfaction regarding their mobile service providers – Maxis, Digi, Celcom and U Mobile – based on pricing, customer service, speed and coverage.

One in five subscribers described services provided by mobile phone operators via online platforms as “trash”, it said.The survey was based on 674,910 online posts gathered from several online platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and blogs.The data on the posts was compiled between November 8 last year and January 7.Shabana said the NCCC received 5,590 complaints on telcos in 2017 and 5,681 in 2016.“We are receiving a lot of complaints from the consumers. They’re facing issues like poor internet connection… complaints that could not be resolved in a timely manner. There are consumers claiming that there are no ports available at their respective areas,” she told The Malaysian Insight. Consumers feel they are not getting their value for money, she said.Consumers feel they are not getting value for money from the services provided by telecommunications providers, says a consumer affairs group. – AFP pic, February 13, 2019.

 Consumers feel they are not getting value for money from the services provided by telecommunications providers, says a consumer affairs group. – AFP pic, February 13, 2019.NCCC sent a memorandum to the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) last year, asking the agency to address the issues highlighted by consumers.“We have engaged with almost all the telco service providers. All the complaints are channelled back to the respective providers and also to MCMC,” she said.While certain companies engaged and responded positively to the complaints, some have shown little interest to look into the grouses, said Shabana.

 Speed and coverage

Internet speed depends on the amount of spectrums available and network capacity, said a telco analyst, who added that densely populated areas will see a slowdown during high traffic moments.The current 4G population is more than 80% for most telcos, as opposed to the more than 95% 3G coverage for the entire industry.Strict monitoring by the government on quality of service in terms of speed and coverage will go a long way towards addressing the issues faced by consumers, he said.“The government has taken the operators to task (fines and penalties) for network lapses but strict monitoring of QOS (coverage and speed) and enforcement would go a long way in addressing the issues,” he told The Malaysian Insight on condition of anonymity.

 “Being commercial entities, telcos are mindful of ROIs (return on investments). There is little business or investment case having blanket nationwide coverage.”As such, he said the government should encourage the utilisation of the universal service provision (USP) fund meant for network deployments in the less economically viable or rural areas.“All telcos contribute 6% of their annual weighted revenues to the fund and the industry has benefitted from the disbursements in the past.”The Malaysian Insight has also reached out to telco service providers and MCMC for comments and is still waiting for a response. – February 13, 2019.