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Mobile phone tariff hike draws public ire

Speaking to ‘Daily News’ on Tuesday, several subscribers of major companies, Airtel, Tigo, Vodacom and Zantel said airtime tariffs seem to have increased even across same networks.

“If you buy a 2,000/- token now, you can hardly make three calls across networks or calling someone of the same network, it’s absolutely crazy,” said Michael Emmanuel, a resident of Kigamboni in Dar es Salaam.

Mr Emmanuel joined several other complainants of the rapidly increasing airtime though prices have not been raised by Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority. Emmanuel who said his dual card handsets bears Airtel and Tigo chip-cards, has been consuming more than 5,000/- daily an increase of over 2,000/- compared to what he used to spend only a week ago.

“It’s New Year and everything is on the upsurge it seems, airtime is now a very expensive item depleting my pockets,” the city resident who works as a second hand clothes dealer, said. Mwanaidi Moses said she officially lodged a complaint to one mobile phone service company after a 5,000/- she fed her phone earlier this week was finished after three minutes of talking to a friend who holds a different number.

“Interconnection rates are abnormal now, 5,000/- recharge voucher done in less than five minutes, no, something is serious somewhere,” Ms Moses said urging TCRA to intervene and stop the greed at mobile phone service companies’ board rooms. She said mobile phone recharging is becoming a burden to many local clients who have since resorted to texting which is also rapidly surging.

“Something should be done to save us from this tariff increase which has not been announced by the regulator,” the city food vendor said. Last month, TCRA announced new ceilings for interconnection rates which took effect last Sunday and will last the next 11 months of 2012.

“The Authority said in a statement that following the elapse of the interconnection rate determined for the year 2011 on 31st December 2011, the new Interconnection rate ceilling to be charged amongst operators from 00:00, 1st January 2012. The TCRA statement further said: “A ceiling of TZS 112.70, equivalent to USD cents 7.16, calculated as per TCRA Determination No. 2 issued in 2007 based on the last 12 months weighted average exchange rates provided by the Bank of Tanzania as at 16th December 2011.”

According to TCRA’s average prepaid tariffs per operator as of September 2011, Sasatel charged the least price at 30/- per minute of on net calls followed by Airtel at 38/-, Zantel at 49/-, Benson at 50/-, Vodacom at 60/-, Tigo at 62/- and Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited at 120/-.

Zantel led the pack by charging 135/- per minute for off net calls, Benson followed at 150/-, Airtel and Vodacom charged 180/- each, TTCL charged 230/-, SasaTel 231/- and Tigo 234/- per minute. Benson charged the lowest per minute calls to any East African nation at 300/- followed by Airtel and Tigo at 310/- per minute each, Zantel charged 324/-, TTCL charged 330/-, SasaTel did 339/- and Vodacom was the highest charging 350/- per minute.

On international calls, Benson charged the lowest rate at 383/- per minute followed by Zantel at 438/-, TTCL at 450/-, Airtel at 457/-, Tigo at 464/-, SasaTel at 489/- and Vodacom charged the highest rate of 507/-per minute.

Zanzibar said on Thursday that more research ...


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