By John Ikani
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has allayed the fears of citizens that no tariff hike will be effected by the operators without due regulatory approval by the Commission.
Heritage Times had earlier reported that telecommunication companies under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), wrote a letter to the NCC, proposing a 40 per cent increase in tariff, a move that wil see Nigerians pay more for calls, SMS, and data.
While confirming that it received the letter from telecommunications operators, the NCC quickly allayed fears that no hike will be immediately approved, stressing that the issue of tariff increment follows a rigorous cost-based study which has a due process.
A statement confirming receipt of the letter and the commission’s response to it, issued by the Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, said :: “The commission has monitored with keen interest the deluge of reports in the media on the demand by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) ostensibly to increase tariffs of telecom services and has taken notes of the fears being expressed by telecom subscribers on the agitation.
“The demand being made by MNOs under the auspices of the Associatoon 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.
“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 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 tarriff regime being administered by the service providers is a product of NCC’s determination both for voice and SMS in the past”.
The statement, however, said that while there could be justifiable reasons for telcos’ demand for tarrif 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.