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No to Telcom Price Hike

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Within the space of a few months the country’s telecommunications sector is abuzz again with pressure from the operating companies who are demanding a 100% price hike for voice and data calls. 

According to reports, the telecommunication operators (telcos) have been pressuring the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to approve the price increase since the first quarter of this year, as they belly-ached over the rising cost of operations.

The series of cost-driven challenges include the rising price of the dollar which has inflated the cost of expanding their capacity as well as network.

That factor has also resonated with the dwindling revenues from decreasing levels of patronage by subscribers.

 Experts said due to rapidly declining average revenue per user for voice calls, which since 2004 has decreased from just over $15 per month per subscriber to a new low of $4 due to the current economic crisis, telcos have been finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.

In fact, experts say that in the last 10 years, a drastic reduction had been recorded in call and data tariffs.

To accentuate the challenge is the situation whereby On-Net and Off-Net per minute tariffs which now stand at N12.01k and N12.64 respectively used to be N24 and N75.30k.

In the light of the foregoing, observers contend that if the NCC accedes to the demand of the telcos, the implications would be far-reaching.

In the first place, the consumers of their services would be put under pressure as the charge for calls and data would double.

For instance, it would cost at least N24.00 per minute of call and N2,000.00 per gigabyte of data. Besides, given the slow growth of fresh subscription and low internet penetration, the economy may be worse off for it as a price hike would discourage increase in demand of telecommunication services. 

This newspaper is inclined to identify with the anti-price hike lobby for now, given the fact that a rapid resort to price increase at any instance of finance related operational challenge to the telcos,  is hardly a sustainable practice.

We are inclined to appreciate that the telecommunications sector in Nigeria is still needy of expansion and deeper penetration which the telcos are yet to exploit to the maximum. Rather than increase the prices the issue before them is a matter of market development.

Telecommunication business is a volume-driven enterprise, hence a better approach should be a resort to expanding the market to the rural population to most of whom telecommunication service is still utopian.

According to available evidence, of the country’s tele-density over 70% are urban and semi-urban subscribers.

Meanwhile the urban population is less than 30% of the country’s total population of about 200 million.

This is just as internet penetration in the country is still very low. The implication is therefore clear that there is so much for the telcos to benefit from increased attention to the rural populace.

The foregoing is not to discount the glaring challenges that are associated with running big business in rural Nigeria.

What with the almost non-existent power supply in the rural areas and the issue of security among others, any contemplation of telcos expanding operations to the rural areas may on the surface look unrealistic.

However when it is considered that the Nigerian economy is mostly a rural-driven one the primacy of the rural environment becomes clearer.

Hence, the motivation of juicy returns from investing in a willing and ready market like rural Nigeria is more than enough incentive for telcos to direct their gaze in that direction instead of skinning their current mostly urban-based consumers to the bone.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Telecom

NCC: US Delegation‎ Visits Commission, Lauds Regulatory Strides

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(L-R): Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC; Rachel Atwood Mendiola, Manager, U.S Embassy; Engr. Ubale Ahmed Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC; Mudari Aliyu Dura

 

Nigerian Communications Commission NCC, Thursday, received a delegation from the United States Embassy in Abuja,

The team, led by Rachel Atwood Mendiola, Fraud Prevention Manager, United States Embassy, was received by the Commission’s Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive, Prof. Umar Danbatta and other top Management staff of the Commission.

The delegation was at the Nigerian Communications Commission’s Head Office to gain insight into the workings of the Commission and to commend NCC’s Management for its regulatory strides in sustaining the growth of the telecommunication industry in Nigeria.

 

Prof.Danbatta while addressing the delegation, recalled to the admiration of his guests some of the Commission’s efforts in ensuring effective regulation of the telecoms sector and providing an enabling environment for telecoms services to flourish, exponentially attributing the Commission’s successes to the faith reposed on it by the consumers and their unflinching loyalty.

 

And that is, the reason the Commission commits itself irrevocably to protecting the interest of consumers and all stakeholders in the industry.

He told his guests that, “NCC continues to be a strategic member and active participant in the activities of many bodies including the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), African Telecommunications Union (ATU), and the West Africa Telecommunication Regulators Assembly (WATRA).”

To demonstrate the resilience of the telecommunication sector even in the face of challenging economic climate, Danbatta stayed that the sector contributed about 9.5% to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product in the second quarter of 2017 and credited the Nigerian telecom consumers with the successes recorded because of their patronage.

The EVC/CEO of NCC said it is the faith the consumers have demonstrated in the sector that made the Management of the Commission to declare the 2017 as the Year of the Telecom Consumer to celebrate the primacy of the consumer and to rededicate itself to addressing the challenges of the consumer.

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NCC Ignores Telcos, Says No to OTT Regulation

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Prof Umar Garuba Danbatta, NCC’s executive vice chairman

Nigerian Communications Commission [NCC] has said it can’t regulate Over The Top Technology [OTT] for now, refusing the telecom operators’ call that the technology be regulated in the country.

 

OTT operators are firms like Facebook, WhatsApp, 2go, Instagram and others who ride on social media to reach their audience.

 

Prof Umar Garuba Danbatta, NCC’s executive vice chairman disclosed this Thursday when a delegation from the United States [US] embassy paid a working visit to the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

 

‘’ The operators are saying we should do something about the OTT. That the OTT is riding on their infrastructure to make money and all other. But it will be very difficult to regulate OTT,” Prof Danbatta said.

 

According to him, though NCC understands the operators’ plight ‘’ the truth is that there is nothing we can do for now’’.

 

The NCC EVC, said he had interacted with head of telecom industry’s regulatory agencies in US and some other advanced economies and he was indirectly told that OTT couldn’t be regulated for now.

 

He also said NCC couldn’t regulate content in the social media as this falls within the jurisdiction of its sister regulatory agency, the National Broadcasting Commission [NBC].

 

He also told the US embassy delegation which was led by Rachael Atwood Mendiola to convince US investors to come and invest in Nigeria’s telecom industry as this is the best time to stake their money in the country.

 

‘’We want investors to come and invest in telecoms infrastructure across the country. I believe they will make their money in no time. Our investment environment is becoming friendlier, our security has improved greatly and the Federal Government had promised some number of incentives for would-be investors.

 

‘’ Plus we still have access gap. We still have about 200 locations across the country yet to have telecom services. This has cut off about 40million people, including people in my local government in Kano. So, investors can come in and take this opportunities.’’, he said.

 

But he said the NCC was working to see the access gaps blocked in the next two years.

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Nigeria to Increase Mobile Broadband Subscriptions to 50% by 2020

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NCC headquarters, Abuja, Nigeria

By peter oluka

Nigeria has disclosed plans to increasing the current coverage of the active mobile broadband subscription per 100 from 20.95 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020.

This was disclosed by Mr Bolaji Akinremi, minister plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the UN, while delivering Nigeria’s statement on ‘Information and Communications Technologies for Development’ at the UN General Assembly’s debate in New York.

Active mobile broadband subscription is the number of subscriptions to mobile cellular networks with access to data communications – like the Internet – at broadband downstream speeds of 256 kilobit per second.

Nigeria’s mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants increased from 1.0 inhabitant in 2012 to 11.7 inhabitants in 2016.

Akinremi said Nigeria recognised the direct impact of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) on the wellbeing of Nigerians.

“The Government of Nigeria recognises the reality that Information and Communications Technologies has direct impact on the nation’s ability to improve the economic wellbeing of its people.

“The Government of Nigeria is committed to facilitating universal availability and cost-effective access to communications infrastructure and promoting utilisation of ICT in all spheres of life.

“Nigeria is committed to achieving cutting-edge global ICT standards, encourage rapid ICT penetration among all socio-economic levels.

“The Government of Nigeria is also committed to increasing the current coverage of the active mobile broadband subscription per 100 from 20.95 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020.

“Nigeria is committed to promoting and encouraging local production of ICT hard and software so as to reduce import dependence and generate foreign exchange by exporting to the regional and continental markets”.

He said that involving developing countries in the ICT revolution would bridge the wide gap of access to information among people.

According to him, if the information gap keeps widening, the possibility of attaining sustainable development by 2030 is not certain.

“It is in this vein that Nigeria further calls on Member States to consider giving Information and Communications Technologies a pride of place in the education curriculum. By so doing, they will undoubted bridge the digital divide,” Akinremi added.

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