Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL) has described problems which their customers were encountering in the past when making phone calls, faxes and telexes as sad experiences of the past. MTL Public Relations Officer, Dora Banda, told The Malawi Standard that following the commissioning of new digital exchanges in many parts of the country including Blantyre and the Lower Shire districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa:"It is very unlikely that customers will encounter any problems with the new digital exchanges. If anything the problem will probably be how customers can control their talking time because the quality is just excellent," says Banda.

Banda said the installation and commissioning of the new digital exchanges replacing analogue exchanges, have improved telecommunication in the country.She explained that the project has cost MTL US$5.5 million. The project involved the supply and installation of the main Southern Region Transit Switch and a ten-position operator assistance centre. The switching units, housed in the buildings complete with brick walls, were supplied and installed in the outskirts of Blantyre namely Mpemba, Chilobwe, Zingwangwa, Manase, Chilomoni, Chirimba, Ndirande, Nkolokoti, Bangwe, and Newlands with Chirimba as the controlling centre because of its proximity to the industrial site.

According to Banda, under the same project 100 kilometres of optical fibre cable was laid to connect the switch centres and the national network as well as duct and cable for each telephone exchange. "Apart from installing new switches and laying of new cable network, the project also rehabilitated the existing cable network for the three main exchanges in Blantyre namely Chichiri Stadium, Limbe and Blantyre exchanges," she said.

Besides commisssioning the new digital exchanges, MTL has also introduced new incentives, which include pre-paid billing system. "Our customers will also be pleased to note that a project to install a new post-paid and a pre-paid billing system has already started. These two systems will tremendously reduce the billing queries we get from our customers. The new billing systems will enable families to budget for the amount of units to purchase in a specific period of time," says Dora Banda.

Malawi Standard