House Probes Private ISPs for Exploitation of Consumers 

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate private Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for alleged exploitation of consumers. 

To this end, the House called on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and relevant agencies to develop a consumer protection framework that includes provisions for automatic compensation or refunds for prolonged service outages or significant deviations from advertised service levels. 

It also urged the NCC to initiate a policy of ‘Pay-As-You-Go’ to all ISPs in order to minimise high level of exploitations by ISPs for services not rendered. 

The resolution of the House was sequel to the adoption of a motion moved at the plenary on Thursday by Hon. Leke Abejide.

Moving the motion, he said numerous ISPs have managed to evade accountability for their widespread inefficiency, feeble and inferior service delivery, while consumers are compelled to persistently pay for inadequate services due to the apparent absence of regulations governing their pricing and service provision, resulting in the exploitation of Nigerians. 

The lawmaker added that frequent service outages, slow speeds and inconsistent connectivity are widespread issues faced daily by consumers, as in this digital age, efficient Internet connection is a necessity, not a luxury. 

He expressed concern that consumers sometimes experience service outages for more than an aggregate of two weeks in a single month from some ISPs, with no mechanism for refunding subscription fees, thus perpetuating a disregard for consumer rights and leading to exploitation. 

Abejide noted that Legend, an ISP operating in Abuja, charges its subscribers a flat monthly prepaid rate despite knowing that its services are frequently interrupted.

He stated: “For example, this company offers various tariff rates, with the highest being approximately 483,000 per month, yet it rarely delivers uninterrupted service for even half of the month. 

“Concerned that Legend ISP deliberately provides reliable internet service only a few days preceding monthly billing, deceiving customers into renewing subscriptions under the false impression of satisfactory performance, before immediately reverting to its persistently inadequate service levels presenting an unethical business model of exploitation of consumers that requires accountability to regulators.”

The lawmaker expressed worry that regulatory agencies have so far condoned the activities of inefficient ISPs to the detriment of consumers. 

Abejide decried the inefficiency of ISPs and their exploitative practices, which he said have far-reaching consequences on the Nigerian society, hindering progress and negatively impacting business and economic activities. 

He argued that by addressing the inefficiencies of ISPs and promoting accountability, government could create a fair and inclusive digital landscape that empowers individuals and strengthens the economy.

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