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NCC suspends directive on new data price floor

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Wednesday said it has suspended any further action on the directive to introduce price floor for data segment of the telecommunications sector beginning from Dec. 1.

The Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Mr Tony Ojobo, announced in a statement in Lagos that the decision to suspend the directive was taken after due consultation with industry stakeholders and the general complaints by consumers across the country.

Ojobo said that the commission had 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.

He said that the regulatory body wrote to the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) on Nov. 1, on the determination of an interim price floor for data services after the stakeholder’s consultative meeting of Oct. 19.

According to him, the decision to have a price floor is primarily to promote a level playing field for all operators in the industry, encourage small operators and new entrants.

“The price floor in 2014 was N3.11k/MB but was removed in 2015. The price floor that was supposed to flag off on December 1, 2016, was N0.90k/MB.

“In taking that decision, the smaller operators were exempted from the new price regime by virtue of their small market share.

“The decision on the price floor was taken in order to protect the consumers who are at the receiving end and save the smaller operators from predatory services that are likely to suffocate them and push them into extinction.

“The price floor is not an increase in price but a regulatory safeguard put in place by the telecommunications regulator to check anti-competitive practices by dominant operators.

“This statement clarifies the insinuation in some quarters that the regulator has fixed prices for data services.

“This is not true because the NCC does not fix prices but provides regulatory guidelines to protect the consumers, deepen investments and safeguard the industry from imminent collapse,” he said.

The director said that before the new 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.

He added that Etisalat offered N0.94k/MB, Airtel N0.52k/MB, MTN N0.45k/MB and Globacom N0.21k/MB.

The smaller operators/new entrants charge the following: Smile Communications N0.84k/MB, Spectranet N0.58k/MB and NATCOM (NTEL) N0.72k/MB.

Ojobo said that the NCC as a responsive agency of government took into consideration the feelings of the consumers and decided to suspend the new price floor.