Data, SMS Cost Hike Not Possible Without Approval, NCC Assures Nigerians

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it will allow any tariff increase by the telecommunication companies without adequate approval.

NCC said this in a statement issued by Ikechukwu Adinde, its public affairs lead, on Friday.

The commission said contrary to MNOs’ agitation to increase tariffs for voice and Short Messaging Services (SMS) by a certain percentage, the Commission wishes to categorically inform telecoms subscribers and allay the fears of Nigerians that no tariff increase will be effected by the operators without due regulatory approval by the Commission.

“The demand being made by MNOs under the auspices of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), citing high cost of running their operations as the major reason for their proposed tariff hike, is contained in a letter to the Commission,” the statement reads.

“Consistent with international best practice and established regulatory procedures, the NCC ensures its regulatory activities are guided by regular cost-based and empirical studies to determine the appropriate cost (upper and floor price) within which service providers are allowed to charge their subscribers for services delivered.

“The Commission ensures that any cost determined, as an outcome of such transparent studies is fair enough as to enhance healthy competition among operators, provide wider choices for the subscribers as well as ensure sustainability of the Nigerian telecoms industry.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, and contrary to MNOs’ agitation to increase tariffs for voice and Short Messaging Services (SMS) by a certain percentage, the Commission wishes to categorically inform telecoms subscribers and allay the fears of Nigerians that no tariff increase will be effected by the operators without due regulatory approval by the Commission.

“It is noteworthy that tariff regulations and determinations are made by the Commission in line with the provisions of Sections 4, 90 and 92 of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003, which entrusts the Commission with the protection and promotion of the interests of subscribers against unfair practices including but not limited to; matters relating to tariffs and charges.

“The current tariff regime being administered by the service providers is a product of NCC’s determination both for voice and SMS in the past.

“However, while there could be justifiable reasons for MNOs’ demand for tariff increase, it should be noted that they are not allowed to do such either individually or collectively without recourse to NCC, following the outcome of a cost study. This is not the case for now.

“Through NCC’s commitment to engendering healthy competition among the licensees, the cost of services has been democratised and become more and more affordable for Nigerian subscribers. The regulator is even more committed to this cause to ensure subscribers get greater value for money spent on telecom services.”

On Wednesday, telcos asked for upward reviews in voice calls, short message services (SMS) and data costs.

In a letter addressed to NCC, ALTON suggested an upward review in the price of calls and SMS.

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