Nigeria’s telecom regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has rejected the request by telecom operators for an upward review of tariff.
Telecom providers under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) had written to the NCC seeking an upward review of voice calls, SMS and data cost tariffs by 40 per cent due to the high cost of operations.
The operators urged the NCC to consider the move for an upward review of the cost of SMS from N4 to N5.61k and voice call termination rate from N6.40k per minute to N8.95k per minute.
The operators said the move to increase the cost of telecom services became necessary due to the high cost of delivering telecoms services across networks, coupled with the harsh business environment and the continuous rise in the cost of various items in various sectors of the Nigeria economy.
However, rejecting the request in a statement at the weekend, the NCC noted that any such decision must be fair to the subscribers and engender healthy competition among services providersa.
The regulator in the statement by its Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, said there is no cause for alarm as it did not approve any increase, adding that it remained committed to international best practices and established procedures in its regulatory activities in the country.
Adinde maintained that any tariff increase by telecoms service providers must be approved by the commission guided by regular cost-based and empirical studies to determine the appropriate cost to be adopted by the service providers.
According to him, the commission received the request letter from ALTON about the proposed increase but stated that any decision in that regard must be fair enough to the subscribers and engender healthy competition among services providers.
Part of the statement reads, “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.”
It pointed out that the current tariff regime administered by the service providers is a product of NCC’s decision both for voice and SMS.
It however 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.”