Mixed Reactions Trail NCC Directive on Data Plan Increase

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(Last Updated On: 2016-11-30)

Nahimah Ajikanle Nurudeen

Telecommunications subscribers are currently venting angers over the proposed implementation of the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC) directive on increase in data tariff plan commencement on December 1st by the Telcos.

The move has also generated reactions from industry stakeholders on the regulator’s rationale for such directive at a time when many people could not access telecoms services due to affordability.

Chairman of Open Media and the former EVC of NCC, Mr Ernest Ndukwe while reacting to the Central Bank of Nigeria call for surcharge on any voice services that lasted more than three minutes  cautioned against any form of tax or burden on telecoms subscribers.
According to him, many people are currently not using telecoms services due affordability.
Also, the Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), in a statement by Deolu Ogunbanjo and Bayo Omotunbora, president and secretary respectively described the proposed increase of data tariff effective from December 1, 2016 as “insensitive, callous, and diabolical”
According to NATCOMS, NCC directive to operators to hike tariff, is one more design by the government to cast more financial burden on the already depressed Nigerians.
NATCOMS said there are already public outcry over the Communications Service Tax Bill which proposes to impose a monthly Communication Service Tax of 9 on all electronic communication services: (a) Voice calls; (b) SMS; (c) MMS; and (d) Data usage is still before the National Assembly.

“The NCC directive (to increase data tariff), is therefore, nothing but a huge effort aimed at enforcing the obnoxious provisions of the Bill through the back door.

The statement read: The inimical directive, if implemented, has grave and far reaching consequences.
1 The gains of telecommunication revolution we have made so far will be rolled back.

2.The policy desire to attain 30  broadband penetration by 2018 will no longer be attainable, with a high prospect of rolling back the current 13   broadband access via mobile.

3.Those e-businesses and small scale businesses that rely on Data and Internet connectivity to offer their services, will go underground and their promoters returning to the labour market and thereby compounding the unemployment situation in the country.

4.Since the data tariff increment is just a prelude (testing the water) to voice calls tariff increment, telecommunication services will now be limited to the rich, and the poor, who constitute about 90  of the population, will be denied access. This is a retreat to pre -2001 era!

5.Within the current suffocating economic situation in the country where prices of goods and services go up every day and thereby undermining the people standard of living, the directive is just a mirror of an inconsiderate policy maker.

6.The Nigerian Communications Commission – NCC did not do due-diligence and did not carry out any consultation whatsoever, through any of their CONSUMER ENGAGEMENT PLATFORMS, like (a) The NCC Telecoms Consumer Parliament – for Urban Centres; (b) The NCC Consumer Outreach Programme – for Sub-Urban Centres; (c) The NCC Consumer Town Hall Meeting – for Rural Areas, before this insensitive anti-consumer move.

MTN and Etisalat have already sent out millions of text messages to its subscribers informing them of the NCC Data increase directive.

Data / Internet availability means more youth engagements, because they use data to develop apps and build software. With what the NCC has done, these young minds, who develop apps will be slowed down and limited.

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Data / Internet Service is the “PETROL” of all electronic driven businesses, which means that the cost of doing business will also increase.

The directive is ill-advised, illegal and parades all features of economic adversity and should be withdrawn forthwith.

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