National roaming is coming

Photo: Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

The Ministry of Communications, through the National Communications Authority, is working with telecommunication companies in the country to roll out a national roaming service, which would allow telecoms service users automatically switch to the strongest available network irrespective of the service provider used, especially when the home network is unavailable or very unstable.

This service would ensure that customers of mobile communications automatically make and receive telephone calls, send and receive data, or access other services while travelling outside the geographical coverage areas of the home network, by means of using a network of another operator.

According to Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communications, forms part of measures to extend voice and data services to all unserved and underserved rural communities in the country.

“Just as roaming outside the country is possible, so it is internally and therefore some conscious efforts are underway to make it a reality soon. The move will augment government efforts at ensuring good telecommunication services across the country.
We want to promote national roaming, so that if you go somewhere were your network doesn’t operate but another network is there you will automatically roam on the other network and get the services and be able to receive and make calls and use data. This will prevent the carrying of multiple devices just so you communicate clearly at different locations in the country.

This is the same as travelling abroad and using your own network there because you are roaming; so we want to promote national roaming as well. It is part of the conversation we are having with the operators and we would want it done,” Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful said.

According to the Minister, COVID-19 has changed the act of doing everything: education, religion, work, entertainment among others, have moved online and persons living in rural areas need not be eliminated from benefiting from these. She added that the move is necessary to facilitate e-education, e-health, e-commerce, trade, and digital financial services in rural communities as a means to open up the country and expedite economic growth.

“Without connectivity, we can’t do that and it is not right that it is only in the big cities and district capitals that we have data and voice connectivity. As a government, we believe that everybody should be connected and we want to send connectivity to all parts of the country,” she added.

Already, the government has secured funding for Ghana Investment for Electronic Communication (GIFEC) to roll out the construction of some 2,000 sites in its Rural Telephony project. Each site will connect some 500 people in each community, which gives the indication that several millions of people will be connected to the data service and voice services when the project is launched.

Currently, telephone connections in the rural communities are very terrible, sometimes, even to the extent of people climbing trees just to be able to make a simple phone call.
The telecommunications companies or Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) who ought to step in to extend coverage by mounting masts in these areas refuse to do so. Especially for communities with populations below 1,000, due to certain commercial and economic considerations.

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