NCC Orders Telecom Operators to Hike Data Tariffs

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has directed mobile telephone operators in the country to jerk up data tariffs with effect from December 1.

Yesterday, MTN sent messages to its customers announcing that there would be an increase in its data tariffs on December 1.  “Dear customer, please be informed that from December 1, some MTN data tariffs will be increased to reflect the new rates set by the NCC to operators,” the short message from the telco read.

The regulator had in a letter dated Nov 1 titled: Re: Determination of an Interim Price Floor for Data Services referred the telcos to its letter dated July 29 and the Industry Stakeholders meeting thatwas held on October 19 where service providers were asked to comment on the interim price floor for data services.

“The Commission has carefully reviewed all submissions and hereby make the following Determinations: the interim price floor for Data Services is No.90k/MB for big operators. This rate will subsist pending the finalisation of the study on the Determination of Cost Based Pricing for Retail Broadband and Data Services in Nigeria; in order to promote a level playing field for all operators in the industry, encourage small operators and new entrant to acquire market share and operate profitably. Small operators and new entrants are hereby exempted from price floor for data services; for avoidance of doubt, a small operator is one that has less than 7.5 per cent of market share and a new entrant is an operator that has operated less than three years in the market.”NCC however warned operators to ensure that subscribers are not automatically migrated to the “pay as you go platform”.

The letter to the telcos also reminded them that the effective date for the interim price floor is December 1, adding that in view of the above, all service providers should ensure that tariff for data service reflects the Determination.

The letter with NCC/PCEA/T&C/TRF/MTN/006 as reference number was jointly endorsed by the Director, Policy, Compettiton and Economic Analysis, Josephine Amuwa and Head, Legal and Regulatory Services, Yetunde Akinloye.

Efforts to get the reaction of the telcos proved futile as calls were not  picked and text messages sent to them failed to elicit any response. The regulator too was not available for comments but industry sector analysts say the development will shut more people out of internet access.

President, National Association of Telecoms Consumers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), Deolu Ogunbanjo, said the directive of the regulator will be counterproductive. “Many businesses depend on the internet as an enabler but with an increase in data tariffs, it will affect the pockets of consumers and hinder further internet penetration in the country,” he said.

TARKAA, Moses Kator

Writer and Student of Law, Benue State University.

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