Indications have emerged that the Nigerian Communications Commission has yet to direct the telecommunications companies to reduce the cost of data and stop “illegal” deductions from subscribers as ordered by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami.
The NCC is rather planning to meet with the minister next week
The minister initially gave the directive in a statement issued on October 20, after receiving a progress report on the implementation of Short-Term Performance Targets set for the NCC.
Pantami re-issued the directive on November 5, saying he was not satisfied with explanations made by the Commission.
NCC was given five days to get the telcos to reduce the cost of data and stop illegal deductions.
However, our correspondent learnt on Friday that the NCC had yet to officially communicate the service providers.
Replying to enquiries by our correspondent on Friday, the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, disclosed that the telcos had yet to receive any directive from the NCC over the matter.
“We heard about it in the media; we have not received any information to that effect. We only read it in the papers and we have not heard anything from the regulator to that effect,” Adebayo told our correspondent on the telephone.
He went ahead to state that the service providers were not making illegal deductions, contrary to complaints being made by subscribers.
According to him, the smartphones being used by the subscribers were to blame for such deductions.
He said, “If you are using a smartphone naturally you have all these updates and downloads that are unsolicited but you get it whether you want it or not but that is what keeps your phone up-to-date. Most of those deductions are traceable to that.”
On the proposed slash of the cost of data, ALTON said, “Price is not a policy issue; price is determined by market forces. Price cannot be by policy pronouncement.”
Further asked what the telecoms operators will do should NCC direct them to reduce their charges for data, Adebayo said the commission would not issue such a directive without consultation, going by the laws guiding the industry.
He said, “NCC will not issue such a directive without consultation and it is in accordance with the provisions of the Telecoms Act that there will be consultation because reduction of price is one thing and sustainability of the services in the new price is another thing.”
The minister had said it was worrisome that despite the fact that the country had over 174 million internet users, the average price of data in Nigeria was higher than what was obtainable in most African countries.
The Director, Public Affairs NCC, Dr Henry Nkemadu, had, while responding to enquiries by our correspondent on Thursday, said the Commission would brief the minister at the end of the five-day period, which will elapse on Wednesday.
But he did not disclose whether the commission would direct the telcos to reduce their data rates. Also, he did not reveal what the NCC would do concerning illegal deductions.