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Operators blame NCC for telecoms industry woes

By on October 16, 2015

Telecoms operators have called on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to exert more of its statutory powers to address the myriad of challenges, which have stunted growth of the Nigerian telecoms sector.

The operators who spoke through their umbrella body, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), insisted that NCC, as the industry regulator and the telecoms operators must take collective responsibility of all telecoms matters, to ensure all issues are adequately resolved.

ALTON Chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, who spoke on behalf of the telecoms operators, blamed the NCC for most of the challenges currently being faced by the operators. He urged the commission to view telecoms matters “as a collective responsibility between it and the operators, in order to remove the barriers hindering the speed of development in the sector.”

Citing the issue of low broadband penetration in Nigeria, which is currently put at 10 per cent, Adebayo blamed the slow rate on many barriers imposed by some state, such as Right of Ways and multiple taxation, which he said, are depriving operators from speedy rollout of telecoms infrastructure in the affected states.

He said: “Rather than NCC asserting its statutory power to address the challenges, it is busy calculating the amount of fines it will impose on telecoms operators for challenges that are far beyond the control of the operators.”

Adebayo who condemned the recent fine imposed on all four GSM operators in the country by the NCC for alleged violation of its directives on SIM card deactivation, said the strategy of using fine to regulate the telecoms industry is not addressing the real challenges.

NCC, he said, had not taken enough responsibility on matters affecting telecoms operators. “What is paramount is for NCC to look deeply into the immediate causes of telecoms woes and expedite action in addressing them”, Adebayo insisted.

NCC had in August this year, fined MTN, N102.2 million, Globacom, N7.4 million, Etisalat N7 million, and Airtel, N3.8 million, totaling N120.4 million fine for all the four GSM operators for violating its directive to deactivate all pre-registered SIM cards, all improperly registered SIM cards and all SIM cards that failed to undergo complete registration on their networks.

The NCC had given the operators till September 7, 2015 to pay the fine or risk additional N100, 000 fine per day for each operator, aside the main fine.

The operators have refused to pay the actual fine, and have collectively vowed not to pay the daily fine as well, which has risen from N120.4 million to N136 million, considering the N100,000 daily fine, which has amounted to N15.6 million in 39 days as of today, bringing the total fine to N136 million. The amount increases by the day.