ALTON Hails Telecoms Sector Regulator

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Gbenga Adebayo

Emma Okonji
The Association of Licenced Telecoms Operators of Nigerian(ALTON) has commended the regulator of the Nigerian telecoms sector.
According to ALTON, the NCC had been a champion of regulatory best practices, proactively addressing issues rather than playing to the gallery by imposing draconian sanctions on erring operators.

The Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo who made the clarification in a statement, while reacting to recent media report that the NCC allows illegalities on the part of telecoms operators, said the report was biased and shallow rooted about the activities of telecoms operators, which the NCC regulates.

Adebayo, said the NCC had on several cases, imposed heavy sanctions on ALTON members for infractions, even when ALTON oftentimes disagrees with the NCC on some of the sanctions, and that it would be unfair for anyone to suggest that the commission has been lax or overly accommodating of breaches of any kind.

According to Adebayo, “We are also deeply concerned that although the report mentioned challenges faced by telecoms operators in Nigeria, it unfairly down-played the effect of these challenges on service provision.

“It is on record that in 2001 when the industry was liberalised, many global players shunned the opportunity because of dearth of supporting infrastructure. Those who eventually took up the licenses paid as high as $285 million for each license on the assurance that the license fees would be used to build and/or improve supporting infrastructure, particularly power and transmission networks.

“18 years after, operators are still left to self-provide power, transmission, security and other supporting infrastructure which are taken for granted in other jurisdictions.”
He added: “The report itself attested to the fact that a single telecoms operator spent over N30 billion on diesel per annum, which is one of the highest usage in the country today. This should be of concern to serious analysts.

“Also, it is rather disturbing that the report mentioned that issues of Right of Way (RoW), multiple taxation, vandalisation of infrastructure, accessibility issues and shutting down of telecom infrastructure are rampant in Nigeria but claims that these are weak arguments for poor performance.”

Adebayo insisted that the quality of telecoms services in Nigeria was among the best in comparable jurisdictions, despite the challenges its members face in their day-to-day operations. He added that despite the extremely high cost of providing services in Nigeria, the telecoms industry is the only sector where charges have been stable.

“Our members daily do battle the state and local government agencies who aggressively harass them to pay both legitimate and illegitimate taxes and levies which runs to several million naira in some cases, they daily

contend with high costs of diesel, frequent theft of equipment, among others without increasing tariffs.
“Despite all of these, our subscribers pay far less tariffs per minute than they paid five years ago, and data charges have continued to fall over the years as we struggle to democratize access to life-changing telecoms services, Adebayo added, while assuring that ALTON would assiduously work with the regulator and other stakeholders to tackle these concerns in the best interests of our subscribers.