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Why NCC rejects networks’ calls for tariff hike, plans review of campaign

The executive vice chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta has given insights on why the Commission denied recent moves by telecom networks to raise prices of services rendered in Nigeria from data to voice, sms and others.

Though he recalled that tariffs in Nigeria are among the lowest globally, he averred that “We will continue to look at the regime of fees being charged by services providers; I am talking on voice services, SMS or data service, to ensure these rates are consistent with global best practices as Nigeria cannot live in isolation”.

Besides, nine months into the ‘Year of The Consumer campaign’, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, has said that the regulatory body would take a review of implementation of the consumer initiative project next year.

According to him, the review is to develop another line of action to raise telecoms consumers’ experiences.

On tariff hike calls, NCC noted that According to him, “From time to time, we do benchmarking, so that Nigeria will not be in the forefront of charging very high prices as well as ensure that the mobile operators are not charging amounts that are unrealistic, which will make them lose their business”.

However, some of the top officials of the networks who spoke to Business Hilights over the weekend said their main demand before the NCC is to review the current priceless data floor and not any other service charge.

In unison, they agreed that non review of Data price Floor (DPF) throughout this year has put several Internet Service providers (ISPs) to near insolvency and out of business as the will to invest in network upgrade and expansion is not encouraged by the prevailing price regime that can best be described as discouraging investment and negative competition in the market segment.

Explaining more on the need to rejig the ‘year of the Consumer campaign’, Danbatta also revealed that as a part of the successes recorded by the campaign about 10 million Nigerians have already activated the Do-Not-Disturb facility made available by the agency.

Speaking at the sideline of 5th Meeting of the National Council of Communications and Information Technology in Katsina, the EVC said only 500,000 telecom subscribers had activated the NCC’s 2442 short code to stop telemarketing and other unsolicited text messages on their phones before the commencement of the campaign.

“We embarked on the campaign specifically with the regards to two important issues. One is, Do-Not-Disturb facility as we had received a lot of complaints that many consumers received unsolicited text messages and for which they are unfairly being charged. We dedicated a facility that will stop those messages from coming to the handsets of the consumers,” he told dignitaries including the Minister Communications, Barr Adebayo Shittu and the Katsina State Deputy Governor Arch Mannir Yakubu.

NCC chief executive also disclosed that “We have been sensitizing consumers on how to take the advantage of this facility by sending STOP to 2442.  Prior to the commencement of the campaign less than 500,000 Nigerians activated the code. As I am talking to you now, close to 10 million Nigerians have activated it”.

He said, the other component of the campaign was to sensitize Nigerians about the existing of the NCC’s toll-free line (622), which consumers can use to lodge complaints with regards to Quality of Service (QoS) and other related services.

“There’s also another important aspect of the campaign, educating the consumers on the existence of emergency call centers. One is being constructed in each state of the federation in order to provide reprieves to people in distress, those who require ambulance service, fire-fighting services and those in need of attention from the police, using another toll-free line, 112,” Danbatta noted.