BOCRA: last mile fails hotels

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

The Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) says a lack of last mile connectivity is largely to blame for poor Internet services in Botswana hospitality facilities.

BOCRA revealed that an investigation was conducted, which covered more than 60 facilities, in a bid to check the availability and quality of Internet services in the local hospitality industry after complaints regarding the status of internet in hospitality establishments. The surveillance targeted hotels, lodges and guesthouses, according to BOCRA.

This Information is contained in the organisation’s 2014 annual report; and according to BOCRA the investigations unearthed the poor service in the hospitality industry which was mainly due to the lack of “last mile” connectivity in some areas.

“Last mile” connectivity relates to the final leg of delivering data access from a communications provider to a customer.

“We have started developing guidelines on minimum requirements for Internet connectivity in hospitality facilities, which would among others set minimum standards for the Internet connectivity in the industry,” BOCRA said in the report.

According to the BOCRA report, these guidelines are expected to provide guidance for the quality of Internet services and minimum bandwidth to be adopted by both the hospitality facilities and service providers. The guidelines are expected to take effect during the organisation’s financial year.

BOCRA chief executive Thari Pheko explained that the Authority has developed a five-year strategic plan guided by the Communications Regulatory Authority Act, which focuses on improving customer satisfaction.

“The plan will thus focus BOCRA’s processes and efforts towards ensuring that there is improved quality of service, enhanced consumer protection and satisfaction, affordable prices in a competitive market that fosters and increases access and usage within the regulated sectors,” he said.

This strategic plan draft is expected to be approved in the 2015/16 financial year.

The same annual report states that during the 2013/14 financial year, mobile subscriptions leapfrogged by a four percent growth increase to 3.2 million.

The report adds that in addition to the mobile subscriptions, access to the Internet has also spread primarily via smart phones with an estimated 43 percent mobile internet penetration rate for the year ended March 31, 2014.

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