The Nigerian telecoms regulator says telcos can not increase rates for their services without approval, in an assurance to subscribers following threats by the industry pressure group.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has monitored demands by mobile network operators (MNOs) under the auspices of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), “citing high cost of running their operations as the major reason for their proposed tariff hike,” Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, Public Affairs Director at the telecoms watchdog, says.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, and contrary to MNOs’ agitation to increase tariffs for voice and short messaging services (SMS) by a certain percentage,” Adinde adds, “the Commission wishes to categorically inform telecoms subscribers and allay the fears of Nigerians that no tariff increase will be effected by the operators without due regulatory approval by the Commission.”
NCC: Nigerian Telcos Can’t Individually or Collectively Increase Telecoms Service Rates
ALTON’s threats of a planned hike in telecoms service by its MNO members, Adinde says, “is contained in a letter to the Commission.”
The Nigerian telecoms market now accounts for 198,123,431 active phone lines; 144,059,086 active internet connections; and 78,082,273 broadband connections as of February 2022, according to NCC market information reviewed by Technology Times.
Citing the high cost of running businesses in Nigeria’ ALTON is proposing call, SMS and data rates that will see subscribers pay 40% more for these telecoms services, according to reports citing the planned increase in call rates from N6.4 to N8.95 and SMS from N4 to N5.61.
But Adinde says that, “consistent with international best practice and established regulatory procedures, the NCC ensures its regulatory activities are guided by regular cost-based and empirical studies to determine appropriate cost (upper and floor price) within which service providers are allowed to charge their subscribers for services delivered.”
The NCC spokesman says that the telecoms watchdog “ensures that any cost determined, as an outcome of such transparent studies is fair enough as to enhance healthy competition among operators, provide wider choices for the subscribers as well as ensure sustainability of the Nigerian telecoms industry.”
According to him, “tariff regulations and determinations are made by the Commission in line with the provisions of Sections 4, 90 and 92 of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003, which entrusts the Commission with the protection and promotion of the interests of subscribers against unfair practices, including but not limited to; matters relating to tariffs and charges.”
Adinde says the current tariff regime operated by service providers “is a product of NCC’s determination both for voice and SMS in the past.”
The telecoms watchdog says that “while there could be justifiable reasons for MNOs’ demand for tariff increase, it should be noted that they are not allowed to do such either individually or collectively without recourse to NCC, following the outcome of a cost study. This is not the case for now.”
According to Adinde, through NCC’s commitment to engendering healthy competition among the licensees, “the cost of services has been democratised and become more and more affordable for Nigerian subscribers. The regulator is even more committed to this cause to ensure subscribers get greater value for money spent on telecoms services.”
ALTON’s outcry over plans by members of the telecoms industry pressure group to increase telecoms service rates has generated mixed reactions across the economy.