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NCC actually consulted before empowering networks to jerk up data tariff—ALTON

Contrary to speculations and massive anger over lack of consultation by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) before directing networks to increase their data tariff, the Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has come out to say that NCC actually did the needful.

However, the media community felt not carried along in the process, unlike any other new development from the federal agency.

But in a statement jointly signed by the Chairman, Engineer Gbenga Adebayo and Publicity Secretary, Barr. Damian Udeh, the group said “While we fully understand the public sentiments that would appear to have greeted the announcement of a minimum data tariff being introduced by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), ALTON wishes to make the following comments in respect of this development”.

“We note that the NCC intervened to set the data tariff floor in exercise of its statutory responsibility to promote healthy competition by periodically reviewing voice and data tariffs in the industry and ensure the sustainability of the Nigerian telecommunications industry. It is noteworthy to mention that the NCC commenced extensive consultation with the industry prior to the finalization of the data tariff floor.

While stressing that the Commission has, since yesterday, suspended the implementation of its Determination on the data tariff floor, ALTON noted that it is within the statutory remit of the NCC for it to make decisive interventions to address the data price concerns which had led to data prices falling to unreasonably low levels with the effect that telecommunications operators were unable to recover the cost of providing data services and reinvest in capacity expansion to accommodate the increased usage arising from lower tariffs.

Continuing, Adebayo noted that “The situation has been compounded by the recent economic challenges characterized by the steep depreciation of the naira, the need to resort to the parallel market and foreign exchange scarcity which have considerably increased the capital and operational cost of providing telecommunications services, thus making current data tariffs unsustainable”.

“This situation, if left unaddressed, could result in a sustained deterioration in the quality of data services across all networks and the attendant poor quality of experience for users.  In this regard, our members await the conclusion of NCC’s market study when the Commission will be in a position to determine its requisite intervention.

‘We are aware that the NCC introduced the minimum price for data services to help ensure cost recovery and drive the continued investment in the telecommunications sector necessary for the provision of world-class data services for the overall benefit of the Nigerian subscriber and the Nigerian economy.

ALTON was of the view that it is its belief that interventions such as these are in keeping with the NCC’s tradition of implementing customer-centric regulatory initiatives such as the Do-Not-Disturb Service and the Mobile Number Portability Scheme which were introduced to enhance customer satisfaction with telecommunications services.

The group further noted that price changes for data services across all networks following any intervention by the NCC are not expected to have a detrimental effect on broadband penetration contrary to some sentiments being expressed in the media. ALTON wishes to emphasise that while it is imperative that telecommunications operators continue to explore opportunities for provide their subscribers with more value for their money, it is important that prices be set at realistic levels which ensure that subscribers are not only able to afford services but that operators are also in a position to provide first-rate Quality of Service to their subscribers.