The request of telecom operators for a tariff increase has been rejected by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) who said that any such decision must be fair to the subscribers and engender healthy competition among services providers.
NCC in a statement 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.
But in a statement by its Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, NCC stated 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.
The statement read:
“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.”
“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.”
Last week, ALTON wrote a letter to the NCC, the telecoms industry regulator, calling for an upward review of the cost of telecoms services.
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.