Nigerians want improved telephony services in 2022
As Nigerians navigate into the New Year, a major wish is to see improvement in telecommunications services across the board.
To a greater extent, in 2021, the poor state of telephony services in the country pitted subscribers against the operators, the quartet of MTN, Airtel, Globacom and 9mobile.
Complaints of network freezing while calls are on, fast depletion rate of data, inability to access bonus offers, drop calls and poor handling of subscribers by customer care agents were among the burning issues last year.
With about 18 days into 2022, it appears the challenge of 2021, as it relates to poor telephony services, is gradually finding expression in the early days of the New Year.
Those who spoke with The Guardian decried the current state of telecoms service.
Pointing at the three leading players, MTN, Globacom and Airtel, subscribers said both voice and data services since the beginning of the year have been below par.
A customer of two of the operators, Israel Alebiosu, said the telecommunications industry in Nigeria has developed to be very competitive, as different telecoms companies jostle for the attention of subscribers.
He, however, said one of the key challenges confronting these companies is how they manage their service, which holds a great deal for customer satisfaction.
He stressed that service quality and customer satisfaction are very essential in maintaining customer loyalty.
Narrating his ordeal, Alebiosu, who is Lagos-based, said: “I use both Glo and Airtel, but I prefer the latter because they give more bonuses and their service is good but when they want to be bad they will be. Glo network is bad these days! The network earlier in the year, removed my airtime when I had not finished using it and their data bundles do not last for long unlike before when they expire on stipulated date.”
According to him, all the operators must invest and expand their services this year, “we don’t want to be making calls and suddenly, the service is frozen or calls drop.”
Another subscriber, Oluwatosin Ahmad, said he currently uses MTN and Airtel. “My MTN is basically for calls and Airtel for my data. Airtel network can be annoying, sometimes! They can just go off when you need them the most, causing setbacks in business while MTN data charge is too exhorbitant. We do not have any best network in Nigeria, we are just managing them.”
Abidemi Fabunmi admitted that as a Globacom subscriber, “their network is good, maybe in my area, I mean around Aguda, but sometimes, their data bundles do not last and they have poor customer service.”
Chinasa Obi preferred Airtel, “but there are times they remove data and airtime subscriptions without my notice, which is bad, and there is always network issue. In fact, since the beginning of the year, they have not been that stable.”
According to Samuel Talabi, an engineer, MTN seems to be the best of these network providers. “But since the last one and half weeks in this New Year, the network has been acting funnily, to the extent that sometimes, their network has been off and on for hours. But in the real sense, they are dependable and very fast in terms of service. Airtel is the second best because they are known for fast browsing networks and pocket-friendly plans but you cannot predict them, they have started misbehaving very early in the year. The service will just disappear on the phone without prior warnings.”
The President of, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), Deolu Ogunbanjo, said the quality of service is not being addressed despite network expansion.
Ogunbanjo noted that since 2022 started, subscribers have been battling drops in voice and data services. “Drop-in data service quality is even worse. QoS is poor, people are just managing.”
The NATCOMS boss, who said he doesn’t know when services would improve, noted that the ongoing NIN-SIM exercise is also impacting concentration from telcos. “I think we would be able to really know where the problems lie when the validation exercise ends. For now, I think only about 60 per cent of the subscribers have been captured.”
According to him, the country needs additional base transceiver stations (BTS) investments for services to improve to some extent. “While UK has about 70,000 masts to cater to the needs of 67 million people, Nigeria, with over 200 million populations, has only a bit above 30,000 in terms of BTS availability.”
Ogunbanjo called on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to wield the big stick of sanction on any erring operator that would not make subscribers get value for their money.
He said in the last 10 years, NCC had been consistent in monitoring the performance of operators, “but it appears the commission has slowed down. Operators need to be put on their toes for the betterment of the industry.”
An official of one of the telcos, who pleaded anonymity, said no operator would want to deny its subscribers the benefits of quality telephone services.
“From our own angle, remember, we made a huge investment commitment last year, especially on broadband. Part of that investment will see us expand, upgrade and deepen our service. I can assure you that services will improve greatly this year.”
In one of his interviews with The Guardian, the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who decried the development, said the Commission is doing everything to ensure subscribers get value for their money.
Danbatta didn’t rule out the option of sanction on operators that fail to meet the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on service quality. He said: “We have KPIs characterising Quality of Service, which is about seven of them. We try as much as possible to ensure that the stipulations of the NCC are respected with regard to set parameters.”