Network, not Rica, at fault

2011-07-01 00:00

A FRUSTRATING cellphone network cut-off yesterday might have been linked to a last-minute rush to register in terms of the Rica law by hundreds of thousands of people trying to beat last night’s deadline.

Vodacom’s network was down from 2 pm until into the evening, while the MTN network went on and off.

It was the final day that people could register their SIM cards before they were cut off. In Pietermaritzburg some airtime outlets had to send their clients to selected venues to Rica their cards.

Said a sales consultant at the MTN outlet at the Liberty Midlands Mall, “We have too many people coming here to Rica and as a result our network goes on and off now and again because of too much information that we are sending.”

Vodacom denied that the network problem had anything to do with Rica.

On Twitter Vodacom said, “The engineers are still working on the network outage — apologies to everyone affected. Just to confirm, this is not related to #RICA.”

Some cellphone users said on Facebook they believed this.

At about 5 pm yesterday evening Vodacom tweeted, “looks like the network is coming right”, but warned there could be “slight congestion” when it does.

Despite months of publicity, especially in the last few days — and a six-month extension on the deadline — subscribers still seemed confused about the Rica process.

Many of the people who went to the outlets were checking whether they had been registered with Rica and some were registering their SIM cards.

Jeanette Lotz of Prestbury went to the Vodacom care centre to Rica the SIM card in her three-year-old computer modem. “I wasn’t sure whether I had to Rica the modem’s SIM card,” said Lotz, who had already registered her phone’s SIM card.

Bongumusa Makhaye of Sweetwaters said he did not take the Rica process seriously when it was first announced. “I came to Rica today because I’m scared that I will be disconnected,” he said at Freedom Square.

Spha Mkhize, a Rica assistant at Freedom Square, said they had lost count of the number of people who had come in since the morning. He said there had been a network problem, but everything was progressing smoothly by the afternoon.

Anyone who failed to meet last night’s deadline will have no cellphone service from today.

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