Nahimah Ajikanle Nurudeen
Following the suspension of the introduction of new tariffs for data plans across all networks by the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC), the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has expressed concerns over the sustainability of the current data prices.
ALTON in a statement signed by its Chairman, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo and the Publicity Secretary, Damian Udeh noted that the NCC had commenced extensive consultation with the industry prior to the finalization of the suspended data tariff floor.
According to the body, 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.
ALTON explained that the effect of the current data pricing regime on telecommunications operators makes it unable to recover the cost of providing data services and reinvest in capacity expansion to accommodate the increased usage arising from lower tariffs.
The group maintained that the economic challenges in the country has worsened the situation in terms of 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.
ALTON said, “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. It is our 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.”
ALTON also 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.
The statement further said, “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.”
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