By Chinenye Anuforo and From Benjamin Babine, Abuja [email protected]
The Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has explained that the new unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) rate is actuality cheaper than the previous charge.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Sun, chairman of ALTON, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, said the new adjustment was misunderstood by the public to be an increment, explaining that, in reality, the cost is now cheaper for mobile subscribers.
The ALTON chairman said: “It is an improper information to the public actually because, before now, some banks charged up to N10 per USSD charge. Some used to charge higher and some lower, depending on the amount of sessions per transaction. What this new directive seeks to achieve is to peg it at N6.98, irrespective of how long the session is.
“The banks committed not to charge any extra on that. So, in actuality, when you look at it, it is actually cheaper for subscribers now than before. This is why correctly informing the public is very important. In times past, subscribers were being charged per session for USSD transactions. A session, which could be measured as one minute or less, used to cost N1.68. To do some USSD transactions, you may do multiple sessions, of which you will be charged for each.
“So, what we did was to charge per transaction, instead of per session. This way, we were able to peg a fixed cost on a transaction, regardless of how many sessions it takes to carry out that transaction. This is why I said the public have grossly misunderstood the development.”
Adebayo went further to stress that the issue proves how important it is for information to be properly communicated and carefully assimilated by the public. He said that misunderstanding of issues could cause more damage to the country’s progress.
However, speaking to Daily Sun on the issue, the national president, National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers, Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, disclosed that the association was ready to take the telecos to court, if the new USSD charges were enforced.
He explained that subscribers shouldn’t have to pay for the misunderstanding between the banks and telecos. Also stressing the issue of proper communication, Ogunbanjo said the telecos and banks should always properly break down the charges to Nigerians.
He said: “Why should subscribers pay because the banks are owing? It is not going to happen because, if it does, we will take them to court. They have to explain clearly for us to know what exactly we are being charged for. We are waiting and watching on the issue. Immediately we notice that there is an increase, we will hit the courts.”