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Mobile giants outline COVID-19 strategies.

Botswana Mobile Operators CEOs

After admitting to being caught ‘slightly off-guard’ by the Covid-19 lockdown, local telecommunications companies are working hard to make up for their sluggish start.

Addressing members of the media this week, the mobile operators – among them Mascom, Orange and Botswana Telecommunication Corporation Limited (BTC) – outlined their strategies to cope with the lockdown, currently set to last until 30 April.

This comes after thousands of users across the country complained of poor connection for both data and voice services since the lockdown began last Friday.

Outlining some of the troubles they have experienced, Orange CEO Dr. Patrick Benon said, “As we speak, the challenge we are facing is that some of the technical equipment are saturated because of the increase in the traffic, but also because of the shift in the traffic from business to residential areas.”

Benon further explained that Orange are currently facing issues with radio access network and national transmissions.

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However, he stressed his company are working on the problem and are confident of finding a solution soon.

Meanwhile, Orange has increased its mobile money limit from P4, 000 to P30, 000 as a way of supporting customers during these uncertain and trying times.

For her part, Mascom Wireless CEO, Dzene Makhwade-Seboni conceded that Covid-19 has brought with it challenges they never anticipated.

“Traffic, both data and voice, have in many cases doubled compared to the same period last year. There is a significant shift in peak hours. Additionally there is heavy shift in usage, from business areas and sites to residential areas,” she highlighted, noting that since the outbreak of the pandemic many have been working from home.

Seboni also revealed that in response to the disruption caused by the killer virus, Mascom has come up with interventions, including increasing network capacity and digital self-service channels.

“Mascom is proceeding systematically to address elements in our networks so as to cater for the situation. Given the rise in demand for the network and online solutions, we have substantially increased our network capacity throughout the country,” she announced, adding the company has doubled its popular My Social bundles daily limit usage from 200MB to 400MB.

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Speaking on behalf of the third of the three mobile giants, BTC Managing Director, Anthony Masunga said they have invested over P500 million in upgrading their infrastructure, with the investment primarily focused on improving its broadband.

Unlike its competitors, BTC, the only locally listed telecommunications company, has received good reviews in terms of network stability in the first days of extreme social distancing.

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