…TUC threatens showdown as Senate promises to intervene
• We did it to protect small operators –Regulator
By Amechi Ogbonna and Isaac Anumihe
The directive handed down to telecom operators by industry regulators, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to increase fees charged on internet services has continued to elicit angry reactions from stakeholders across the country. But according to NCC, the hike is intended to protect the small operators whose position is being threatened by the ‘big four operators’.
Following the NCC directive, several telecom subscribers took to their social media platforms including twitter handle and facebook to condemn the action which they said would further impoverish ordinary Nigerian.
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) for instance yesterday issued a stern warning against the planned hike in prices of data services by Nigerian telecommunication.
Comrade Bobboi Kaigama, the TUC President said the union would vehemently oppose the plan which aims at further impoverishing hapless Nigerians who were already overburdened by the country’s harsh economic crisis.
Similarly, radical Senator, Shehu Sani, in his comment on Twitter noted that “increasing tariff on data services is simply about extorting more from the people after paying more for electricity”.
Kazzem Mossa Tijani reacted thus;“Enough of these extortions. Salary is not increased. Salary is not regular and everything is just going up. What a country. It seems NCC is not experiencing recession. God save us from these heartless people.”
Also commenting on the issue, Tunde Leye @tundeleye condemned the planned increase. “NCC is about to do to data what CBN has been doing to dollars, that we’ve always done to fuel and a big reason power is bad. Price fixing,” he stated.
For Konnie @Konnie772: “it’s horrible honestly, they really are greedy, selfish, wicked, nonchalant etc. They just don’t care at all” Others who reacted included Etin-Osa @etinmagbe who tweeted: “How did the FG & NCC decide on the time for Telcos to increase data tarrif? How does that even make sense? Despite the present hardship?” In a follow-up tweet, she added “Do these people even care at all for the common man on the streets that’s struggling to survive?”
“NCC forces an increase in data charges. Tax calls above 3 mins. Drone permit for a year, $4000. Our leaders are scared of information,” tweeted Ben Bassey @benbassey:“
Mr Aye [email protected] questioned the rationale for the NCC decision: “Is the data tariff hike mandated by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) going to help grow Nigeria’s economy?”
J.F.M: “I do not have issues with the data price increase in its own self. The mind boggling question here is – What does the NCC seek to achieve?”
Aliyu Sulyman @mindadi1: “They don’t want us to have access to data, They know the power youths have on the internet.”
Several of them turned to the Senate President Bukola Saraki who had pledged to intervene on the issue, urging him through tweets sent to him to prevail a rethink on the part of NCC.
Udeagbala Chinazaw rote: “This needs to be discouraged,” while Friday Ojembe @Ojembe13 said: It’s actually disheartening to hear about this hike in data tariff at this critical time in our history.”
Other tweets to Saraki read: “Good one Mr. SP. You are the last hope of the average Nigerian. Pls save us from this government policy.”
Monday Emeoka: “The earlier the better, Mr Senate President. Please.”
Ajayi Odun: “Other countries compared to Nigeria. The planned increase shows they lack focus.”
Meanwhile the Senate yesterday promised to look into the hike in data charges by the mobile operators. In response to a tweet by Henry Ezeanya earlier urging the senate to look into the proposed hike in data by NCC, Senate President Bukola Saraki, assured that the upper legislative chamber would tackle the NCC on the proposed increase.
The Senate President in replying, said that the Senate “will do”
Pascal O @Paskael: “Thank you for doing it in advance.”
Bukar D Malgw: “Very much happy on hearing your comment. Thanks our next President to be.”
Jude Ekeanyanwu @Okesipapa: “Discos are exploiting us by estimating bills, fuel hike, now data hike and we still pay your taxes. Please leave mmm!”
Mohammed Shettima @shettimaplc: “It’s the handiwork of the corrupt. Unfortunately most Nigerians celebrate corruption and corrupt practices; so the mess continues.”
Afobelly: “Sir don’t just do, act fast, cos the increase will take effect as from December 1.”
message sent to its subscribers by one of the OPERATORS reads:”Dear Valued Customer, Effective 1st Dec 2016, we will review our data plans & prices in compliance with NCC directive.
Meanwhile the Senate yesterday promised to look into the hike in data charges by the mobile operators. In response to a tweet by a concerned Nigerian Senate President Bukola Saraki , assured that the upper legislative chambers would tackle the NCC on the proposed increase..
A tweet sent by a Nigerian, Henry Ezeanya had earlier urged the senate to look into the proposed hike in data by NCC. The senate president in replying, said that the senate “will do”
The NCC through a letter to all the operators informed them that it had introduced floor price for data, meaning that operators could no longer offer Nigerians affordable data tariffs like before as doing so would be in contravention of NCC directives.
According to the regulator the increase was necessitated by the need to provide a level playing field for all operators in the industry, small operators and new entrants to acquire market share and operate profitably small operators and new entrants are hereby exempted for the price floor for data services,” it said.
“For the avoidance of doubt a small operator is one that has less than 7.5 percent market share and a new entrant is an operator that has operated less than three years in the market.
“All operators are to ensure that subscribers are not automatically migrated to pay-as-you-go platform.
“Also, note that effective date for the interim price floor is December 1, 2016.”
The message read: “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.”
But industry Telecommunications stakeholders have kicked against the recent orders by Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to operators to hike data fees from next month, saying, “it’s unacceptable at this point in time.”