Telcos Vow to Resist NCC’s Sanctions over Poor Service Quality   



By Emma Okonji

 Telecommunications operators (Telcos) have vowed to henceforth resist any sanction against them by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) due to poor service quality.

The telcos, who said they are contending with myriad of challenges that are grossly affecting their quality of service, insisted that any further sanction would be resisted unless the regulator addresses the challenges hindering quality service.

One of the operators, who spoke to THISDAY on grounds of anonymity, said the telcos were fed up with the sundry challenges they face on a daily basis, even as they struggle to fix the ones that are within their capacities. The challenges according to the operator, range from willful destruction of telecoms facilities, destruction of fibre cables during road construction, theft of battery at cell sites, harassment and high demands from communities and social miscreants among others, which they said, are adversely affecting service quality.

They expressed worries that the NCC keeps pushing the blames on operators, without helping to fix the challenges.

According to the operators, should these challenges persist and the NCC did not take steps to address them, “then we will resist further sanctions that may come from NCC, based on poor service quality that is traceable to the challenges enumerated.”

Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, who spoke at a panel session during the broadband summit organised by BusinessDay in Lagos last week, said: “Telecoms operators are faced with lots of challenges that are beyond their control and these challenges are adversely affecting service quality.”

Adebayo said that of utmost concern, was the recent move by social miscreants to steal batteries that power cell sites, which they sell to telecoms subscribers, who do not know they are batteries stolen from telecoms cell sites.

According to him, over 20,000 cell site batteries had been reportedly stolen between January and May this year from various base stations belonging to telecoms operators.

Speaking on the implications, he said such theft would cause operational downtime at telecoms base stations, because all links connected to the cell site would be affected once there is a cut in power supply, as a result of the stolen battery.

Adebayo said unknown to the buyers, the batteries have inbuilt tracking device and that several of them have been traced to Alaba market, in Lagos, from where one of them was traced to the house of a popular politician in Kano.

“Battery theft is a very serious issue that is affecting service quality in the telecoms sector and this has to be addressed urgently, he said.

The ALTON Chairman also expressed his displeasure over several fibre cable thefts which he said were exposed to the earth surface during road construction and thieves take advantage of it to cut and steal the cables.

Just as stolen batteries have adverse effect on service quality, so also does vandalised  fibre cable cause serious disruption in service quality, Adebayo explained, while calling for stiffer sanctions for fibre cable and battery thieves, in order to address the ugly trend. He also called on government to expedite action on the passage of the telecoms facility bill into law, as critical national infrastructure. He said such law would help to protect telecoms facilities from theft and willful destruction.