Communications and Digitization Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has repeated a promise she made September last year that telcos in Ghana will soon start a national roaming services to ensure all phone users get good network reception no matter where they are.
National roaming, like international roaming, would mean that all telcos can depend on each other’s network to serve their respective customers and then deal with the reconciliation and settles issues between themselves.
Already, telcos are doing co-location of infrastructure, but they have not yet allowed national roaming, so service on some networks remain very poor in some areas, while others have very good service in those same areas.
For this reason, many Ghanaians have resorting a phenomenon called multi-simming, where they either hold and dual-SIM or tri-SIM phones connected to different networks, or they hold more than one phone so that they can get good reception on one network or the other, depending which location they are on.
Indeed, those who cannot afford multi-simming, keep porting their numbers to networks, depending which network they believe provide the best service in a particular community they find themselves in.
But the Minister wrote in a Facebook post on Friday, April 30, 2021 that “Ghana to start a national roaming service and interoperability wherein areas your network provider have no coverage, your SIM is automatically ported unto the available network for the period of time you are within the no coverage area.
“This means one does not need to own several SIM cards from different network providers.”
Currently, Glo has cut connectivity to some areas of the country, while National Communications Authority’s quality of service reports indicate some of the telcos are really performing very poorly in lots of communities across the country.
But when national roaming comes on stream, in areas where one’s network is non-existent or very poor, a subscriber’s SIM will automatically connect to another telecom network which has good connectivity.
This is however not the first time the minister has made this promise. In September last year, she made a similar promises at a forum but did not state a specific date when it will start.
This time round, she again stopped short of stating what measures have been put in place at the operator and regulator levels to make national roaming happen, and she also did not state when it is starting.
Meanwhile, some industry watchers think the Minister is pushing for national roaming to save her struggling new baby, AirtelTigo, which government acquired recently for a reported US$1 with huge liabilities, which government has structured to pay.
But national roaming has the potential to boost voice, SMS and data communication in the country by making connectivity accessible to all, in all communities.