Experience of early depletion and rise in data consumption by telecoms consumers are not necessarily as a result of ‘illegal deductions’ or ‘sharp practices’ by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) but more as a result of varied factors.
This was the position of Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) during a presentation at the monthly briefing on Short-Term Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) by agencies under the Federal Ministry of Communications.
During a presentation by the management of the Commission to the Hon. Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami and other officials of the ministry, Danbatta spoke extensively on what the NCC has been doing in key areas of its regulatory mandate.
Such areas of mandate include reduction of cost of data, stemming the tide of ‘illegal deduction’ of data, addressing the issue of invalidly-registered Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards; as well as efforts in ensuring continuous compliance with the maximum 2 percent Call Drop Rate (CDR) directive to telecom operators on Quality of Service (QoS) delivery, each of which Danbatta and Directors in the Commission took turns to discuss extensively with the Minister.
On the issue of data, the EVC said “The ‘illegal deduction’ of subscriber data was not in the real sense of the word illegal and was also not as a result of any proven ‘sharp practice’ by the operators.”
According to him, “the reasons for the rise in data consumption and depletion, which is classified by some users as ‘illegal deduction’, include the advancement in technology, which has led to the rise in applications, updates and services that leverage on this technology and advancement of supportive data infrastructure.”
Others, according to him, are increase in video-based advertising content by social media companies which in some cases are layered on free services offered by the companies; auto updates of apps on the phone over mobile data network without any sort of prompting or intervention by the user of the mobile phone.
While making a presentation to the Honourable Minister, Engr. Bako Wakil, Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, NCC, stressed that while regulatory efforts are ongoing towards a downward review of cost of data and improved quality of data services for telecom subscribers, the drivers of the cost of data provision and quality of service in Nigeria are, however, not entirely within the control of the Commission. These data provision drivers and factors include Right of Way (RoW) issues, fiber cuts, vandalism, multiple taxations, insecurity and power outages as well as site access denial that tend to temper seamless service provision.
Speaking on measures being taken by the Commission towards curbing proliferation of pre-registered SIM cards in the country, Danbatta elaborated on a broad-based identity management database solution being worked on to permanently curb the menace.
He noted that, “In view of the grave impact of pre-registered SIM cards and other SIM-related crimes on national security of the country arising from this challenge, the Commission is considering implementing a robust Identity Management Solutions to curb the menace once and for all as the telecom sector transit into a new SIM Card Registration Regime based on the Mandatory Use of National Identity Number (NIN) Regulations issued by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).”
On Call Drop Rate, Danbatta said, based on its monthly monitoring of operators’ level of QoS delivery, “the CDR across all mobile networks this year has been below 1 per cent threshold, a situation that has steadily and relatively improved quality of service (QoS) of telecoms consumers.
Meanwhile, Hon. Minister Dr. Isa Ali Pantami has commended the NCC for doing well in enlightenment on consumer issues and other ongoing initiatives, adding that “we can re-strategise and heighten campaigns in all media, especially in local languages.”