NCC Moves to Curb Broadband Price Competition

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Emma Okonji

The recent broadband price war between bigger and smaller operators will soon come to an end, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said.

To address the industry challenge, NCC said it would soon release a new cost-based pricing for retail broadband that would give smaller operators competitive advantage to remain in business.

The Director, Licencing and Authorisation at NCC, Ms. Funlola Akiode, who made the disclosure at the recent stakeholders’ consultative forum held in Lagos, said the decision to release a new cost-based pricing for retail broadband, arose from a forum held last year, where the issue of anti-competition in retail broadband services was raised.

“We are currently in the process of finalising the determination of cost-based pricing for retail broadband and data services aimed at addressing the issue of competition in this segment of the industry.

“It is heart-warming to note that arising from the stakeholders’ consultative forum held last year, the commission came up with some initiatives to address some of the challenges identified,” Akiode said.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umaru Garba Danbatta, reminded selected operators who were invited to the forum that there were existing Service Level Agreements (SLA) and codes of conduct that, when appropriately implemented, would guarantee conducive operating environment that would significantly reduce the need for regulatory intervention.

Danbatta, who was represented by Akiode, particularly mentioned the Code of Corporate Governance for the telecoms industry, and expressed the Commission’s concern that much of the problems bedevilling the industry could, arguably, be traced to lax governance standards.

“We expect all licensees, including those for whom the Code is not yet mandatory, to review their governance practices to better conform with the Code,” Danbatta said.

Akiode, who listed some of the challenges in the telecoms sector to include competition with major operators in the retail segment, inadequate frequency spectrum allocation and interference on the unlicensed frequency bands, fluctuations in foreign exchange and access to loans/funding to roll out service or sustain their business, said as a responsive regulator, NCC has reviewed some of the concerns and issues and would soon address them amicably.

Akiode who called for the cooperation and support of industry stakeholders and licensees with regards to compliance with extant laws and subsidiary legislations, noted that most operators were not compliant with the laws
“With respect to compliance with licence terms, conditions and obligations, our recent audit checks revealed that some licensees were not in compliance with obligations such as payment of Annual Operating Levy (AOL), approved Individual Consumer Code of Practice (ICCP), Type approval of equipment, submission of statistical data and informing the Commission on their change of address.

“Another important concern is in the area of licence renewal. We also observed the issue of delay in licence renewal by licensees whose licences have expired or about to expire,” Akiode said.