Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nigeria - calls for lower tariffs

NATCOMS Calls For Lower Telecom Tariff

The National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers, NATCOMS, an umbrella association of telecommunication users nationwide has called on telecommunications operators to review downwards their high tariffs as a marginal way of cushioning the effects of an unmitigated and sustained poor service delivery currently being experienced by subscribers.

National President, NATCOMS, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, who made the call at the weekend in Lagos, therefore appealed the new Minister of Information and Communications, Dr. Dora Akunyili never to allow operators take advantage of consumers by putting on them tariffs increase as they have always threatened, the last one being at their November 13, 2008 meeting. He, however, added that any attempt to do so will be totally resisted by his association.

He disclosed that under the current tariff regime for GSM voice calls, the operators charge between N42-N48 per minute (without promotion conditionalities) during the peak period for off-net calls, while they collect between N30-N40 per minute during the peak period for on-net calls. For the CDMA (fixed wireless) category, for voice calls, Ogunbanjo further said the operators charge between N8 - N15 per minute (without promotion conditionalities) for the peak period for off-net calls.

Under the current tariff regime for GSM SMS, the operators charge between N15-N20 per SMS (without promotion conditionalities) provided the short message is not more than 160 characters, for both peak and off peak periods, while for the CDMA SMS, the operators charge between N10-N15 per SMS (without promotion conditionalities) provided the short message is not more than 160 characters.

"We consider the various tariff regimes stated above as very high. Worse still, the high tariff regime for SMS has discouraged the effective utilisation of the SMS platform as a means of interactive communication among subscribers. The under-utilisation of the SMS platform is principally responsible for the network congestion, because if the SMS platform is optimally utilised, many voice calls would have employed the medium of SMS and the voice call platform would have been less congested because each SMS uses an insignificant band-width of the system capacity when compared with voice call," he said.

The NATCOMS boss said the association is aligning with the displeasure expressed by Professor Akunyili regarding the worrisome and persistent poor services rendered by telecoms operators. He consequently called on the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC) to 'collect statistics in order to determine the performance of each operator which should be properly analysed and made available to the office of the Minister regularly as directed by her.

While applauding the cheering news that the Minister had directed the telecommunications operators to review downwards their high tariffs, Ogunbanjo commended the exemplary leadership the Minister has demonstrated in the Communications Ministry since assumption of office. He said since the agenda of the Minister was in time with his association’s vision it will stand with her in ensuring that tariff reduction is attained within 90 days as directed, which he further noted was already counting.

"But in the unlikely event that the operators ignore the directive, our National Executive Council shall meet and direct millions of our members on what to do to ensure compliance," the NATCOMS President warned. NATCOMS was established in 2002 to fight for, and defend the rights, interests and privileges of telecoms subscribers in Nigeria.

No comments: