Customers feel they are not benefiting from the stiff competition in the telecom sector.
Cameroonians have a modicum of choice when it comes to subscribing to mobile telecom services. Popular opinion holds citizens often get less than what their money is worth, regardless of the service provider they choose. This is apparently prompted by the seemingly inadequate communication and multiplicity in promotional calls and Internet data bundles operators in the sector offer.
Government liberalised the telecommunication sector in 1998 in a bid to fast-track its growth and bridge communication gaps. It opened floodgates for investors to troop in; each scrambling for a lion’s piece of the market share. It ushered in competition expected to enable citizens enjoy products and services of better quality at cheaper prices.
But only two service providers, Orange Cameroon (formerly Cameroon Mobile Company, SCM-Mobilis) and MTN Cameroon leaped in at the onset. Both went operational in the year 2000, competing with Cameroon Telecommunications Corporation (CAMTEL). The number of cellphone users hit 13 million in 2013.
Following the success of MTN and Orange, other service providers have since then scurried in. These include Nexttel and other internet service providers such as Vodafone, Creolink, Ringo, Vodacom, Equacomm, Foris Cameroon and Yoomee. The number of subscribers now stands at about 17 million.
With the introduction of the 3G network a couple of years ago, MTN and Orange engaged in a somewhat aggressive competition for data bundle subscribers. The companies which now run 4G network have further reduced costs of internet bundles with special offers for weekends and late night surfing. Orange subscribers are offered a minimum internet bundle of 100MB at FCFA100 while the minimum amount for MTN users to gain access to the internet is 5MB at the cost of FCFA25.
What customers decry, nonetheless is the fact that it is hard to tell with exactitude the cost of internet bundles in Cameroon, in spite of government regulations. Operators offer many promotional billings yet customers who get lost in the lake of such promotional offers often come out of it with negative impressions.
In face value, one would believe operators offer options appealing to different classes of citizens. They offer a variety of hourly, daily, weekly and monthly options at different but similar costs. The amount of downloadable data for these periods also differs. But then again, the companies do not inform customers how deductions are made on mobile data bundles.