By Chima Akwaja
Telecommunications operators have faulted the suspension of the data tariff floor by NCC, insisting that data prices be set at realistic levels to ensure that operators are able to provide first-rate quality of service to their subscribers.
The suspended data tariff floor would have increased charges for data services offered by telecommunications operators, if NCC had allowed its implementation, which was supposed to take effect from December 1, 2016.
The Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, who announced the suspension plan, said: “The Commission has weighed all of these and consequently asked all operators to maintain the status quo until the conclusion of study to determine retail prices for broadband and data services in Nigeria.”
Before the new but suspended price floor of N0.90k/MB, the industry average for dominant operators including MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, EMTS Limited (Etisalat) and Airtel Nigeria Limited was N0.53k/MB.
Etisalat offered (N0.94k/MB), Airtel (N0.52k/MB), MTN (N0.45k/MB) and Globacom (N0.21k/MB).
But the smaller operators/new entrants like Smile Communications, Spectranet, and ntel, charged different rates. Smile Communications charged N0.84k/MB, Spectranet charged N0.58k/MB and ntel charged N0.72k/MB.
MTN had on Monday announced fresh plans to increase data tariffs, but following the complaints from subscribers, NCC decided to suspend any further action in that direction.
Reacting to the action of NCC, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), yesterday in a statement expressed dissatisfaction over NCC’s action to suspend implementation of the new data tariff floor. The statement was signed by ALTON Chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, and its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Damian Udeh,
According to the statement, “While we fully understand the public sentiments that would appear to have greeted the announcement of a minimum data tariff being introduced by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) wishes to make the following comments in respect of this development. We note that the NCC intervened to set the data tariff floor in exercise of its statutory responsibility to promote healthy competition by periodically reviewing voice and data tariffs in the industry and ensure the sustainability of the Nigerian telecommunications industry.