Telcos Kick Against NCC’s Suspension of Data Tariff Hike

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Emma Okonji
Telecommunications operators have kicked against the suspension of the new data tariff floor recently approved by the Nigerian Telecommunications Commission (NCC), which would have increased charges for data services offered by the firms had NCC allowed its take off yesterday.

Worried about the public outcry that greeted the planned tariff hike, NCC on Wednesday announced the suspension of the initial directive it gave to operators on the introduction of a new data tariff floor.

The Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, who announced the suspension, said: “The commission has weighed all of these and consequently asked all operators to maintain the status quo until the conclusion of a study to determine retail prices for broadband and data services in Nigeria.”

Reacting to the suspension, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), yesterday in a statement by its chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, and its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Damian Udeh, expressed dissatisfaction with the decision to suspend the implementation of the new data tariff floor.
According to the statement, “ALTON notes that price changes for data services across all networks following any intervention by the NCC were 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 to provide their subscribers with more value for their money, it is important that prices are set at realistic levels which ensure that subscribers are not only able to afford services but operators are also in a position to provide first rate services to their subscribers.

“While we fully understand the public sentiments that would appear to have greeted the announcement of the new minimum data tariff introduced by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), ALTON wishes to state that 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 ensuring the sustainability of the Nigerian telecommunications industry.

“It is noteworthy to mention that the NCC commenced extensive consultation with the industry prior to the finalisation of the data tariff floor, but the commission has since Wednesday suspended the implementation of its determination on the data tariff floor.”

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, ALTON warned.

“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,” the body said.