By Olabisi Olaleye
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.”
Ahead of the rate increase, operators have begun sending SMS to their subscribers across the country informing them of the policy change.
But some subscribers who spoke to Daily Sun highlighted the obvious implications of the tariff raise to include gagging information, undue oppression and cutting off some subscribers from enjoying data services, among others, warning that the directive may further stunt telecoms industry growth.
According to Zinox Computers Chairman, Leostan Ekeh, who spoke on phone to Daily Sun, there are questions to be asked and such need precise answers.
“Though I am just hearing it for the first, there must be reasons but certainly not at this time. We need to tread cautiously,” he said. The rate raise, which is largely unknown will take effect from December 1, 2016. This information may be coming as bad news to the generality of Nigerian youths who dominate the social media space with mobile phone data plans.
Another stakeholder, who spoke on condition of anonymity noted that the hike was also coming on the heels of a scathing economic recession, which has forced the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to initiate a proposal of taxing phone conversations above three minutes. He estimates to rake a N100 billion in a year into the national treasury.
Meanwhile, Ifeanyi Ubabuko, a telecoms subscriber, hinted that Nigerians youths would be the worst hit.
All efforts to get NCC and some service operators to respond as at press time, proved abortive.
Recall that the NCC has directed mobile operators to initiate a new data tariff regime from December 1, 2016 in what is effectively a price increase.
In a letter to mobile operators dated November 1, the regulator stated that the interim floor price for data services was 0.90k/MB for big operators and that, “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 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 per cent 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.”
On Monday, MTN sent messages to its customers stating that there would an increase in its data tariffs from December 1.
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.”