PHUKET: Mobile phone operators, who once touted their services as the solution to the lack of land lines on the island, are now finding themselves victims of their own success.
They are fending off waves of customer complaints and trying to find solutions to the overloading of telephone networks in the peak hours between 5 pm and 10 pm.
Boonkul Masangchai, Manager of Advance Info Service Co (AIS), upper south branch, told the Gazette that the problem is the result of a recent steep increase in demand in the evening.
“If you make a call to someone who is using the same network as you, most of the time there will be no problem,” he said. “But if you call someone using a different network there are sometimes problems and delays making a connection.”
He explained that calls to phones using a different network are automatically rerouted through the state telephone bureaucracy TOT (Telephone Organization of Thailand), whose network soon becomes overloaded, creating telecommunication traffic jams and long waits.
“The operators and the TOT know about the problem and are looking to enlarge their networks because mobile phone users are getting fed up and maybe they’ll look for other ways of chatting,” he added.
“People’s telephone habits have changed because of all the cheap promotions [that have been offered]. In the past, users would keep calls short and only discuss important topics. Now the cost has dropped by about 80% for local calls and people call a lot at peak times after work or school and this is why operators must invest and expand their networks,” he said.
“The TOT are rushing to fix this problem. The whole situation is like a huge traffic jam being redirected down a small country lane.”
Suphanee Sangphan, of mobile phone operator Orange, told the Gazette that the problem was not a new one, and was affecting the entire country.
“We are trying our best to find a solution and believe that the problem can be alleviated soon. We apologize to any customers who are less than happy,” she said.
She explained that the number of Orange users is growing and that the company is expanding to meet the need.
“I would like to suggest [to users] that if they find the network is busy they should wait three minutes. That way it should be easier to get a signal. If you redial immediately you go automatically into a long queue of users,” she added.
Boonsri Srion, Manager of Customer Service Center of TOT, Phuket Branch, said that the TOT in Bangkok is in discussions with operators right now because mobile phone users nationwide are affected.
Repeated attempts by the Gazette to elicit comment from DTAC were unsuccessful.
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