‘Growing subscriber base affecting service quality’
NIGERIA’s growing subscriber base has been linked to the continued drop in quality of mobile telephone services in the country.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) stated this in Lagos, at a media briefing on the planned 2.6GHz Spectrum band auction.
Indeed, the country, whose teledensity has crossed the 100 per cent mark at 100.59 per cent, currently has over 192 million connected lines, out of which 140 million are active.
Out of the 140 million, the GSM operators, which are the quartet of MTN Nigeria; Globacom; Airtel and Etisalat control 138.5 million active lines, while the remaining 1.5 million lines are shared between the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and the fixed wired/wireless operators.
According to the Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau at NCC, Mrs. Maryam Bayi, the commission is putting so many things in place to ensure subscribers get benefits for their money.
Bayi said NCC is monitoring the operators and would not hesitate to sanction if any of the operators failed to meet the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) threshold.
“All we are talking about is to get consumer the best, whether at 2.3GHz; 2.6GHz; InfraCos licensing among others, they are targeted at giving customers the best in voice; data and video.
“Though, it is easy for people to condemn what is going on in the industry, but the fact remains that the growing number of subscriber base in the country is affecting services, in terms of existing infrastructure being able to service everybody at a go”, she stressed.
Already, a Ministry of Communications Technology document had informed that for improved telecommunications services in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and other sub-Saharan African countries, there will be need for about 350, 000 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS). The document disclosed that Nigeria alone has over 20, 000 BTS and would need about 80, 000 to meet the growing service quality demand from operators.
A 2014 The Guardian investigations showed there were about 27, 000 BTS spread across the country, with MTN having the highest, a little over 10,000. Airtel and Globacom have between 6500 and 7000 BTS, while Etisalat has 4500.
Furthermore, Bayi admitted that the service providers are also facing serious challenges, which include high RoW fees; multiple taxation; vandalism, and especially the poor power situation in the country. “But despite all these, the NCC is not relenting on getting the best for consumers, but there is need for consumers too to know that there are certain things they too can do to get help.
“On QoS for instances, we have opened avenues for them to lay their complaints to the service providers and if they (service providers) didn’t respond, we have contact centers that they can send their complaints.”
According to her, the call centers are in Lagos and Abuja. She stressed that consumers can call and seek redress from NCC against any erring service providers.
“We are monitoring them and we have been receiving complaints. Some Have been resolved and others are outstanding and we chasing after the service providers to do something about them. Our task at NCC is also to ensure consumers get value for their money.
“The NCC is seriously campaigning for increased broadband penetration, so that we could provide more opportunities at affordable prices and ensure availability, this will not be limited to Internet, but better voice and video services. In 2015, we shall not tolerate any excuses from the service providers, even if they are saying no infrastructure; we are opening platforms for them”, she stated.
Bayi informed that NCC has been talking to government on the issue of multiple taxation, stressing that the commission has contacted some state governments on this and the security issues as well.
She informed that NCC has limited telecommunications operators promo to three per quarter, stressing that if their services are bad we won’t allow them put promos on the network, though they have been complaining, but we need to ensure the consumers get the best.
Corroborating Bayi’s point, the Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Tony Ojobo said consumers should first reports to their networks, especially on poor service receives and reception “and if nothing is done, NCC can now be contacted and we shall take it up from there.”
Bayi further said that NCC is working to ensure customers are not ripped off and bombarded with barrage of unsolicited SMS, stressing that the commission has told the operators to control those things coming from their VAS providers and “when we discovered that not much is being achieved in that area, we are now talking with our legal and regulatory affairs department to come up with regulations that will control the sector properly because if there is regulation, it will be very clear the actions NCC will take to regulate rather than for them to continue to breach that space. Unsolicited SMS have become very irritating to all consumers.”
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