By Olajide Meseko
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has assured telecommunication subscribers that the regulatory agency will not allow an increment in tariff without recourse to empirical studies.
The commission gave this assurance sequel to calls by mobile network operators (MNOs) in a letter submitted under the auspices of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) to the NCC, ostensibly to increase tariffs of telecom services, citing the high cost of operations as the major reason for the proposed tariff hike.
The commission, however, explained [that] it has taken note of the fears expressed by telecom subscribers on agitations for the proposed hike. It added that, consistent with international best practices 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.
A statement by the commission’s director of public affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, said 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 said.
The statement added that the current tariff regime administered by the service providers is a product of NCC’s determination both for voice and SMS in the past.
It further said, however, that while there could be justifiable reasons for MNOs’ demand for tariff increase, they are not allowed to do so individually or collectively without recourse to NCC, following the outcome of a cost study.
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.