NCC Hit GSM Operators N647.5million Fine, Telecom Stakeholders Protest

NCC IMPOSES FINE, AS STAKEHOLDERS COMPLAIN

Last week, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) imposed a fine of N647.5 million on Airtel, Globacom and MTN Nigeria, the three major GSM service providers for failing to meet the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Quality of Service (QoS) in the month of January 2014.

Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC

Reasons Advanced for Sanctions

According to the regulator, the services the telcos provided for the period, fell below expectation, particularly in relation to dropped and incomplete calls.

NCC has also barred the trio from selling Simple Identification Module (SIM) cards among other things, from March 1 to 31, 2014.

According to the head, Media & Public Relations (NCC), Reuben Muoka, the three companies have been barred from all promotions on their networks until they improve on the failed KPIs for which they were sanctioned.

The details of the sanction showed that Airtel Network Limited, and MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, are to pay a fine of N185 million each, while Globacom Limited is liable to the tune of N277.5 million.

In addition, each of the operators must pay the sanction amount on or before March 7, 2014, failing which each will be liable to pay N2,500,000 per day as long as the contravention persists.

He said that the sanctions, which were communicated to the three operators in a letter signed by Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Eugene Juwah, explained that the commission will carry out an audit of the three companies on March 1, 2014 and also on March 31st, 2014, to ensure that no sale of new SIM Cards take place in any of the three networks within the period.

The letter made reference to an earlier directive of December 10, 2014, which warned the operators that “if the Quality of Service does not improve by 31st December, 2013, the Commission will be compelled to direct operators to, among others, suspend the activation of new SIMs and subscribers until such an operator can prove that it has met the Key Performance Indicators specified in the Regulations”.

The NCC set four critical KPIs: Call Setup Success Rate (CSSR), Drop Call Rate (DCR), Traffic Channel Congestion (TCHCONG) and Stand Alone Dedicated Control Channel Congestion (SDCONG).

ALTON, ATCON Hit Back

Stakeholders in the industry condemned the NCC for imposing a fine of N647.5 million on Airtel, Globacom and MTN Nigeria, while lamenting that the regulator is only dancing round in circles.

They believe nothing good should be expected from the latest move, as it is not likely to achieve anything with this punitive measures just like its efforts were fruitless in 2012 when it imposed sanctions on all the operators.

Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo said by this action, the NCC was only shying away from its responsibilities.

The latest fine, he recalled, is the third time the NCC was imposing sanctions on operators and wondered if it had changed anything.

Also, he wonders whether it has any benefit on subscriber whom the regulator claims to be doing all these on their behalf, stressing that all the fines will go into the treasury of the Federal Government.

He accused the NCC of acting as a sole administrator, not caring about the general good of the industry, while playing to the gallery and highlighting only the negative things in the industry.

The President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Engr. Lanre Ajayi said the action by the NCC was not only wrong, but unjustifiable.

According to him, it was very difficult to picture how sanctions can improve quality of service.

“It does not add on. We all know why there is poor quality of service. It is because of challenges and inhibitions on the way of operators so rather than impose sanctions, government should find ways to remove these impediments”.

The ATCON boss maintained that the NCC imposed sanctions in 2012 and it did not yield any positive response and doubted if anything will change this time around.

NATCOMS Wants Compensations

On his part, President, National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS), Deolu Ogunbanjo say the hard fines that the NCC had adopted is only putting money in the pocket of the government and is leaving the Nigerian subscribers with nothing as even these fines will still be paid indirectly by the subscribers.

According to him, NATCOMS is advocating a soft fine such that will be of benefit to consumers, which can be achieved by asking the operators to give N10,000 worth of airtime to each subscriber on their network. This way, the subscriber gets the benefit of the fines.

Sanctions

However, Dr. Eugene Juwah has said the latest sanctions is the necessary step to arrest the continued failure by operators to meet with the regulations on KPI, for acceptable quality of services in the country.

Juwah who spoke to a cross section of journalists on the sidelines of the just concluded Mobile World Congress at Gran Fira in Barcelona, Spain, said the commission has endured a period of 18 months during which it reduced the KPIs for the operators but regretted there was no significant improvement from the three operators as they promised.

“We have to take a more drastic action to improve user experience in the network. There are issues with capacity of the networks, and it would appear that the service providers load up the network as soon as there is some expansion. The issue with capacity must be resolved for user experience to improve,” he said.

Furthermore, he stated that after the first round of sanctions in 2012, the Commission had reached understanding with all the service providers that the KPI’s upon which they were sanctioned should be reduced over a period of 18 months during which the service providers will make significant improvement through provision of more infrastructure and achieve a progressive improvement in quality of service.

We are a listening regulator. For 18 months, we waited and we said, no fine. We lowered the KPIs. We listened to them, and we took notes on all the issues. Gave advice where needed. But we did not see the results in user experience and even the readings upon which they were sanctioned were obtained from their switches. It means that we have to hold them to their promise and we have to get back to the original KPIs as prescribed by the regulations”, he said.

Going forward

The NCC boss said going forward, the commission will establish secondary switches that will capture user experience after which it will compare the results with those of drive tests such that engineers from the service providers will also see the user experience as it concerns quality of service.

He said after the sanctions which includes stoppage of promotions on the networks, in addition to barring them from admitting more customers in the month of March, 2014, the Commission will continue to take the necessary steps towards addressing issue of QoS until it is resolved in the interest of the consumers.

Source: Daily Independent

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