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ALTON Raises Alarm, Says Telcos Face Difficulty in Traffic Obligations

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Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has raised alarm over upheaval task and frustrations faced by the members to settle their international call termination charges.

Addressing a group of Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) at the quarterly training in Lagos recently, Engineer Gbenga Adebayo, ALTON President, said that the operators have continued to compete in an unhealthy environment, making it difficult to meet financial obligations or remain stable.

He said that is further compounded by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) maintaining the status quo on the inclusion of telecoms equipment in the 41 items excluded from accessing forex

He said that, despite the CBN’s interventions to ‘save’ the Naira from free-fall in the foreign exchange market, the members are yet to feel the impact, as they have continued to source the essential ‘commodity’ through the ‘black’ market.

Engr. Adebayo said, “In the absence of local substitutes for its plant and machinery, the Telecommunications Service Providers are constrained to source FX from interbank market at higher rates compared to other sectors such as Manufacturing, Aviation and Agriculture accorded priority in FX allocation at reduced rates by the CBN.

“That means, if I have traffic obligation to settle at five Cents, I can’t source it, rather I have to buy the equivalent from the ‘Black market’. That means, in actually fact, my settlement rate could be higher than it should be.

“So, why would the telecoms would not been accorded forex priority? Owing to the prevailing economic situation in the country, ALTON members cannot transfer the increased cost burden to the consumers, thereby contracting profitability and ability to make further investment to drive growth in the industry.

“You can only invest in the network if you have extras. What this is telling us is that the rate of transfer to settle foreign obligations, as we have to procure from the open market, is higher than the cost and profit. In other words, you will not have anything left.

“They continued to compete in a very difficult market; purchasing equipment at ‘black market’ rates, can’t honour obligations as due, we have to deal with these things. Like I said earlier, there is no service provider in this country that has headrow to accommodate the overflow if one network operator is out of service, no matter what is the capacity. Even an operator with five million subscribers goes off I do not see any operator to accommodate that”.

According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), there there are three main ways in which operators pay interconnection charges for carrying each other’s traffic:

Calling party network pays (CPNP) — the originating operator pays a per-minute charge to the operator that terminates the traffic being exchanged. It is the most common interconnection regime.

Bill and keep (BAK) — under this system (sometimes called “sender keeps all”), each operator agrees to terminate calls from another network at no charge (usually on condition that traffic is roughly balanced in each direction).

Receiving party network pays (RPNP) — an operator receiving a call pays a per-minute charge to the originating operator. Less common than CPNP, this system is used in North America and Japan.

Operators generally seek to recover their net costs through charging consumers of their services. There are two main ways to do this:

Calling party pays (CPP) —the person who makes the call pays for the entire cost of that call, but nothing for calls received. This system usually coexists with CPNP interconnection charges for operators.

Receiving party pays (RPP) — the person receiving a call pays all or most of the cost. In the mobile sector, this refers to payment of the “airtime charge” for termination on the recipient’s handset, while the originator too might still pay for a local call. This retail charging system usually coexists with RPNP.

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Telecom

NCC Hosts UNODC, Vows to Sustain Collaborations Against Cybercrimes

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) will continue to collaborate with other government agencies and international partners towards stemming the tide of cybercrimes.

Mr Sunday Dare, NCC’s executive commissioner, Stakeholder Management, stated this on recently at the Commission’s Headquarters during an interactive session with representatives of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC.

Kamal Toure, the UNODC eLearning Project Officer and Patrick Boismenu, cybercrime expert, were at the Commission’s Headquarters as part of their assessment mission to West Africa to gauge how well Nigeria, Senegal and the Gambia are able to fight cybercrime.

Mr. Dare noted that the Commission performs its regulatory functions in a way that ensures that its licensees take the steps necessary to combat cybercrimes.

He explained that “The role of the NCC here is to do an audit and make sure that we have all the ISPs having active databases and meeting the six months (data retention requirement) as stipulated in the license provision.”

Responding, Patrick Boismenu stated that UNODC is willing to provide assistance in needed areas to ensure that ISPs comply with requirements for data retention because of the crucial role data plays in fighting cybercrimes.

“Our goal is to ensure that cybercrime investigators have access to the tools they need to do their work,” Mr Boismenu explained.

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TCP: NCC Says Consumer Satisfaction, Robust Sector Top Priorities

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By Ugo Onwuaso

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is determined to carry out its regulatory functions to ensure that the companies operating in the industry were healthy.

Prof. Umar Danbatta, the executive vice chairman of the Commission, made the remark during the 81st edition of the Telecoms Consumer Parliament (TCP) held in Lagos.

He added that “it has taken steps to ensure that the telecommunications sector remains vibrant”.

Mr. Sunday Dare, the executive commission, Stakeholders Management, NCC, who represented the Executive Vice Chairman, said that “the commission would carry out its regulatory functions to ensure that the companies operating in the industry were healthy”.

The Chairman said that the regulatory body had made interventions to prevent disruptions in the consumer’s experience.

According to him, “NCC has commenced aggressive enforcement of the Code of Corporate Governance to ensure that licensees in the industry continue to operate as viable businesses.

“The consumer deserves all the credits for the past and indeed the future successes of this industry.

“The Nigerian telecommunications consumers are at the centre stage of our regulation.

“We at the NCC, being consumer centric regulatory organisation have decided to celebrate consumers of the Nigerian telecommunications industry consistent with the eight point agenda that I set out when I assumed office in 2015.

The number two and six items of the agenda are the core drivers of the NCC year of telecommunications consumer initiative.

“While the number two item of the agenda addresses improved quality of service.

And item six is concerned with protection and empowerment of the telecommunications consumers,” he said.

He also stated that all NCC’s initiatives such as SIM card registration, Mobile Number Portability, Broadband policy implementation, development of 2442 and 622 short codes as well as various consumer awareness campaigns were to ensure consumer satisfaction and protection.

Danbatta added that the commission would continue to look out for and protect the interest of the consumer without compromising the interests of other stakeholders in the industry.

Mr Abdullahi Maikano, director, Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) of NCC, said that over the years, TCP had proven to be an innovative way of bringing all stakeholders together to discuss and proffer solutions to industry issues.

Maikano said that the TCP had continued to occupy a pride of place in the commission’s activities.

He said that NCC would continue to provide significant resources to ensure that the parliament is held regularly for the benefit of consumers and the industry.

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Banks’ Working for Early Sale of 9Mobile — Fidelity Bank Boss

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Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, managing director of Fidelity Bank Plc, has said that all the banks whose money is trapped are working together for smooth sale of the telecoms on or before the end of the year.

This is as the 180 days’ window handed down to the receiver managers of 9Mobile draw nearer.

Explaining industry issues in a recent interactive session with select editors and publishers in Lagos, he said “As you are aware, the creditor banks came together to appoint a new Board and Management for the company, with the Deputy Governor of the CBN as chairman of the Board”.

“The company has good fundamentals with about 22 million subscribers, and it is also very strong in data. Our interest is to ensure the company remains a going concern so that it can attract interested buyers. The banks are working collectively on this,” Fidelity bank chief executive revealed.

It would recalled that at the heat of the $1.2bn syndicated loan default crisis which nearly grounded the former Etisalat, both the telecoms regulator and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), considered the volume of subscribers and intervened.

Part of the intervention was the appointment of Dr. Joseph Nnanna, former Deputy Governor of the CBN to head the chair the board and prepare it for potential investors between 90 to 180 days.

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