The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has declined MTN, Airtel, Glo, and other telecommunication companies’ request for tariffs increase.
Recall that the telecom companies under the auspices of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), wrote to the NCC requesting a 40% increase in voice calls, SMS, and data cost rates, giving the high cost of operation as their reason.
The telecom operators requested that the NCC consider raising the cost of SMS from N4 to N5.61k and the termination rate for voice calls from N6.40k to N8.95k per minute.
The telecoms companies explained that the decision to raise the cost of services was made necessary because of the high cost of delivering telecoms services across networks, as well as the difficult business environment in the country.
Responding to the request, the NCC in a statement issued during the weekend, rejected the telecoms proposal, stating that such a decision must be fair to consumers and also promote healthy competition among service providers.
The NCC Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, stated that there is no cause for concern because no increase was approved, and that it remained the commission’s interest to follow international best practices and established procedures in its regulatory activities in the country.
The statement reads in part: “Consistent with international best practice and established regulatory procedures, the NCC ensures its regulatory activities are guided by regular cost-based and empirical studies to determine the appropriate cost (upper and floor price) within which service providers are allowed to charge their subscribers for services delivered.
“The commission ensures that any cost determined, as an outcome of such transparent studies is fair enough to enhance healthy competition among operators, provide wider choices for the subscribers as well as ensure the sustainability of the Nigerian telecoms industry.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, and contrary to MNOs’ agitation to increase tariffs for voice and Short Messaging Services (SMS) by a certain percentage, the commission wishes to categorically inform telecoms subscribers and allay the fears of Nigerians that no tariff increase will be effected by the operators without due regulatory approval by the commission.
“It is noteworthy that tariff regulations and determinations are made by the commission in line with the provisions of Sections 4, 90, and 92 of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003, which entrusts the commission with the protection and promotion of the interests of subscribers against unfair practices including but not limited to; matters relating to tariffs and charges.”
According to the report, the present tariff structure imposed by service providers is a result of the NCC’s resolve in both voice and SMS.
However, it added that “while there could be justifiable reasons for MNOs’ demand for tariff increase, it should be noted that they are not allowed to do such either individually or collectively without recourse to NCC, following the outcome of a cost study. This is not the case for now.
“Through NCC’s commitment to engendering healthy competition among the licensees, the cost of services has been democratised and become more and more affordable for Nigerian subscribers. The regulator is even more committed to this cause to ensure subscribers get greater value for money spent on telecom services.”