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MTN, Airtel, Glo pay NCC fine

By on June 20, 2012

There were strong indications yesterday that telecoms giants – MTN, Globacom and Airtel- may have paid the fines imposed on them by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for not meeting the quality of service Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set for the industry.

A source confirmed yesterday that payment was made by three of the penalised operators, except Etisalat.

The source said NCC received confirmation of payment from the trio on Monday evening. He said for the operators and the commission, “it was a win-win situation.”.

When contacted, NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Mr Tony Ojobo, could not confirm the payments as he was attending a meeting in Lagos.

He said: “I am not in Abuja and cannot confirm if the operators have paid or not.”

But MTN’s Corporate Services Executive, Mr Wale Goodluck, confirmed his company had paid the fine, at the Sixth Business Law Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Lagos.

Meanwhile, efforts to get confirmation from Globacom and Airtel proved abortive.

Last week at a meeting with NCC, the operators promised to pay the fine this week after reaching an agreement with the commission on review of the KPIs.

On May 10, the four GSM operators were fined N1.17billion for poor services to subscribers.

While MTN and Etisalat were fined N360million each, Airtel and Globacom were fined N270million and N180million.

They were given up till May 25 to pay the fine or get additional N2.5million daily as contravention charges.

It could not, however, be confirmed if the extra surcharges were also paid by the operators.

Meanwhile, the Executive Vice-Chairman of the NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, said the regulatory agency’s SIM card registration is on de spite the ongoing probe of the project by the House of Representatives.

Juwah, who gave the assurance at media parley with reporters in his office, said the outcry over the N6.1 billion budgeted for the project was unfortunate. He said the database to be generated would be of immense benefit to the country.

Though he acknowledged the right of the House of Representatives to beam its searchlight on any government agency, the telecoms expert explained that a comparative cost analysis of SIM card registration with other countries showed that Nigeria would be spending less.

He also spoke on the N1.17 billion fine the NCC imposed on service providers, insisting that the affected firms would soon pay the fine despite their initial resistance.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with the registration and very soon, we will ask for permission from the House if we can start before they conclude the probe so that we can finish everything on time. There is no centralised database in Nigeria as I am talking to you and if we finish it, it will be the first centralised database in Nigeria. If it is that easy, why has it not been done before? So, it is a job we are taking very seriously and who says we don’t have capacity?

“I think we didn’t do enough job of explaining and by the time we started explaining to the public, it had become too late. There is this public bias also when people hear of billions. India is also carrying out SIM card registration and it is being carried out by the regulator in conjunction with a special body appointed by the government. Registration of a subscriber in India is about $2, which is about N340, but the highest cost of registration in Nigeria is about N120, which is less than what India is using and India is known to be a very low-cost country.

“We are a government agency and once they (the House of Representatives) summon us, we go. The probe is going on. So, everybody will see what will come out of it. We are not afraid of anything because we have not done anything wrong. At times, people who have issues with NCC will go and publish whatever they like, but I can tell you that there is nothing wrong in SIM card registration. Nobody has gained one kobo out of it. The process and the money are well- managed,” he stressed.

Justifying the fine on service providers for low quality, Juwah explained that it was within the mandate of the NCC and that it was done after a consideration of the issues.

Meanwhile, to ascertain the adverse effect of ICT equipment on consumers NCC has slated a conference on EMF Exposure and Health in Lagos State.