No one can force telecoms operators to reduce data cost ― ATCON

THE Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has said the telecoms operators in Nigeria cannot be forced to reduce the cost of data because they are private companies who are profit-driven.

The National President of ATCON, Olusola Teniola while speaking with Tribune Online, said if the reduction in the cost of data would be affected, then the National Communications Commission (NCC) would need to come up with price determination which the stakeholders would review.

Recall that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami recently issued a directive to NCC to work with telecoms operators to ensure downward review of data cost.

Reacting to this, ATCON National President said the Minister does reserve the power to issued such directive, noting that the industry has been liberalized since 2009.

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“Since the liberalisation of the industry in 2009, we are regulated by the National Communications Commission (NCC), and only NCC can determine the price that we charge to consumers.

“We also have a consumer code that we adhere to, so the directive from the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy cannot be enforced because it is not the Minister who regulate the industry.”

While lamenting that some customers do not follow process relating to issues concerning telecoms services, Teniola noted that each service provider has a customer centre where complaints are lodged for attention.

“It is also troubling that we have Nigerian citizens who are not following the process relating to issues regarding the telecoms services.

“As you know, each service provider has a customer centre, and it is that place that is the call centre that they should call for telecoms related issues.

“Secondly, if they are still not satisfied with the outcome or service from the service provider and it does not seem satisfactory or rectified, then they can call NCC number. NCC over the years has been consumer-centric in its focus.”

He, however, said “So, it comes as a surprise that we have certain consumers who are the minority, who are complaining to the Minister directly as if the Minister can solve all issues for them regarding the telecoms services, which is not correct because there is a process.

“The Nigeria data prices is one of the cheapest and lowest in Africa, so, I am really surprised that we are having this intervention by the Minister when our cost of data is one of the lowest in Africa. And also the cost of doing business here is one of the highest in Africa.

“The focus of the Minister should be getting the cost of delivery of telecoms services lower and also address those Nigerians that are not able to access voice services let alone internet services which represent 20 million to 30 million Nigerians, that should be the priority of the Minister.”

When asked if NCC had communicated the Association and telecoms operators on data cost reduction, he said “there is no one in Nigeria that can force operators to reduce cost, it is a free market.

“Let’s be serious, let NCC come up with the price determination and then the stakeholders would review. These are private companies, they are here to make a return on investment, it is a free market, we are not in a communist state.”

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