Telecom operators react as FG mandates NCC to cut data cost

Following the recent instruction by the Nigerian government that telecommunication firms should reduce the cost of data in the country, telcos have reacted against the directive saying it would be impossible to do so within five days.

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) said that the federal government order that data should be reviewed downward in five days was impractical and inconsiderate given the high operating cost in the country. They stated that such mandate was capable of scaring investors away from the country.

Commenting on the new directive, ALTON chairman, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, said that the NCC shouldn’t be stampeded and must be given some level of freedom to operate. He questioned how the mandate would work given the hash operating environment.

“I don’t know how the government is going to achieve that (data reduction) in five days. Has it considered the high cost of operating our businesses and the very harsh operating environment we are in?” he asked.

He continued: “Why are they trying to muzzle the NCC and stampede it into doing what is unrealistic? Do they know that operators don’t just sit down and fix tariffs? They, with NCC, rely on so many things before coming up with tariffs.

“We do not know under what circumstances the directive was given, and to be honest, we don’t know how that is going to be achieved. We have said it several times that when policies interfere with commercial matters, the industry will be jeopardised. Government needs to be careful not to whittle down the powers of the regulator.”

Recall that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, recently directed the board and management of NCC to resolve the issues of illegal data deduction and slash the price of data within five days.

The minister had stressed that there were numerous complaints from Nigerians regarding illegal data deduction and high price of data, adding that he had personally experienced illegal data deduction.

Corroborating the minister’s position, the Senate also said in a recent report that the telcos operating in the nation’s market were “robbing” Nigerians of their hard earned monies.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, made the allegation during budget defence by the NCC.

“The telecommunications companies are robbing Nigerians of their hard earned money. Senate will do everything possible to ensure that Nigerians using their services get value for their money,” Senator Tinubu had said.


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