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Telephone subscribers seek better services, tariff cuts

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Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators (ALTON)

Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators (ALTON)

• Operators task govt on sector’s protection

With telephony services hitting 15 years in Nigeria this week, subscribers have called for improved services and further cuts in tariffs.Today, with investment nearing $40 billion, and more operators coming in, there are now over 220 million connected lines, out of which 148 million are active. The country has also crossed the 100 per cent teledensity mark and can account for nearly 95 million Internet users and almost 20 million users of Facebook.

But despite these achievements, subscribers, who pay the bills, are demanding improved services and further cut in tariffs.The chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, meanwhile, has advised government to offer operators and their investments first layer protection for further growth of the sector.

He said though there are challenges including drop calls, unsolicited SMS, incomplete calls, “these are not peculiar to Nigeria alone, these still occur even in advanced economies. There is need to understand that technology is evolving daily. We must also note that this sector has enabled virtually all others industries’ growth. So, there is need to protect and pamper it.”

Joke Jolaosho, while commending the operators for their steadfastness and belief in the Nigerian economy, regretted that the problems of drop calls, unsolicited SMS, and airtime deductions still pervade various services by operators.

A staff of one of the new generation banks, she said operators still have to work on connections. “Though it is better than where we started, I believe we can achieve 95 per cent call success rate. For now, it is very appalling.”

Jolaosho stressed that more investments are still needed for the sector to become the mainstay of the economy, especially now that prices of crude oil are falling globally.Borno-based Zarkariyau Biu called on operators to increase investments in the North East, noting that relative peace has returned to the region.

Further tariff cuts is the prayer of Joy Nwaobani. According to her, the 11k per second billing and N4 per SMS can still be reviewed.Nwaobani, a system analyst in Lagos, wants operators to consider low-income earners, who form the bulk of callers and texters, and review prices downward.

From the United Kingdom, Kehinde Aluko, in an email chat with The Guardian, commended the operators’ foresight in coming to Nigeria. He, however, urged the quartet of MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat to improve service delivery by increasing their collective investments.


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