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AT Ghana SIM card sales rise as MTN and Telecel internet access improves

Three Telecos
Three Telecos

Both MTN Ghana and Telecel Ghana have today reported some improvement in internet access to customers following days of near total blackout due to the massive subsea cable cuts that happened on Thursday, March 14, 2024.

The cuts occurred on all four major submarine fibre optics cables that connect Ghana to the rest of the world and on which all telecoms and internet service provider in Ghana offer data/internet services to customers.

The four affected cables were as follows:

  • ACE – which stretches from France (in Europe) to Cape Town (South Africa
  • WACS – stretching from Portugal (in Europe) to Cape Town
  • SAT-3 – from Portugal/Spain to Cape Town
  • MainOne – from Portugal to Cape Town

Per a series of statements from the National Communications Authority, ACE, WACS, and MainOne lost 90% capacity due to the cut, while SAT-3 lost 100% capacity.

Hours of the disruption, AT Ghana was back on track providing service to its customers on the back of some limited backup capacity it had from WIOCC (West India Ocean Cable Company), while K-NET also fell back on its redundant capacity on Angola Cable to resume service with about 40 minutes.

But the two leading telcos in Ghana have been in the woods for days since the disruption, with customers largely unable to do anything meaningful online, except for WhatsApp text, and some limited access to YouTube and Netflix.

But in statement on March 18, 2024, MTN said “We are happy to inform you that we have secured additional capacity from our international partners, which has resulted in an improvement in your data experience.”

They then assured customers that they are working hard to resolve the issue as soon as practicable.

In a similar statement from Telecel Ghana, the recently launched telecom brand in Ghana said It has secured “new internet capacity and is progressively adding more capacities through local and international partners, including other Telecel subsidiaries. This, is in addition to local caching solutions which are enabling access to some content services such as YouTube, Facebook, Netflix etc.”

Telecel also debunked information circulating on social media that the disruption is due to some misunderstanding with Telecel and its international wholesale carriers.

“Please note that information circulating on social media platforms about the disconnection of Telecel Ghana due to debts owed is false and should be disregarded,” it stated.

Indeed, some MTN and Telecel customers across the country have reported that they are now able to do a bit more than they have been able to on the internet over the past few days.

One customer said “I can now open weblinks sent to me on my MTN phone,” while another said “my son is evening doing his online class on Microsoft Teams this very minute.”

The editor of an online news website said since the disruption he has not been able to get to the backend of the site to post stories, but beginning from today, he is now able to access both the backend and front end on both his MTN and Vodafone internet access channels.

AT Ghana cashes in 

Meanwhile, due to disruption on MTN and Telecel, several Ghanaians have found AT Ghana a saviour, to the extent the their regular shops are fast running out of SIM cards, while individual vendors are selling AT Ghana SIM cards for up to GHS40, instead of the GHS10 regular price.

A visit to some of AT Ghana’s shops in Accra indicate long queues of persons there to purchase SIM cards. Meanwhile, at some of shop, people are turned away right at the entrance by the security person who kept telling people “we have run out of SIM cards.”

As a result of the rush for AT Ghana SIM cards, NCA has given the company approval to expedite SIM registration and activation by just using the Ghana Card without capturing additional biodata. As a result, many more Ghanaians are gradually getting back on the internet via AT Ghana.

What would have saved the day is the eSIM registration for persons who have compatible devices. But Techfocus24 learnt that AT Ghana’s eSIM registration system has been down for a while now.

Going by NCA’s third update on the situation, Ghana is expected to get full recovering from the disruption in about five weeks.

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