NCC states that telecom operators cannot raise tariffs According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), telecom operators operating under the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria can not increase calls, data and SMS tariffs by 40% without prior approval from the regulator.

The Commission stated that there would be no cost review of the telecom sector before empirical studies are done to determine if increments are required. According to Dr. Ikechukwu Abinde, its Director of Public Affairs and Chief Press Officer, the statement was made by the NCCThe current tariff regime, which is managed by service providers, is a result of their “determination in the past.” Adinde says, “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 to enhance healthy competition among operators, provide wider choices for the subscribers as well as ensure the 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.” According to ALTON’s request, call prices will rise from ₦6.4 to ₦8.95, while the SMS price cap will rise from ₦4 to ₦5.61.

The telecom operators argue that the business has been harmed financially due to the country’s economic downturn in 2020 and the ongoing Ukraine/Russia issue, consequently increasing energy costs, increasing their operating expenses by 35 percent. The cost of doing business has risen 40% in the last years, according to them. They went on to say that the recent imposition of a 5 percent excise charge on telecom services had added to the industry’s burden of many taxes and levies. “Upward review of the price determination for voice and data and SMS. Due to the economic situation and the 40 percent increase in business costs, we request an interim administrative evaluation of the mobile voice termination rate; administrative data floor price and cost of SMS, as per existing instruments.,” ALTON said in a letter to the NCC. But, the NCC cites Sections 4, 90 and 92 of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003 which delegates powers to the Commission to determine prices so as to ensure they protect “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,” Adinde says to telecom operators. However, the NCC agrees that while there may be justifiable reasons for the request of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to effect a 40 percent 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.” Adinde adds, “Through NCC’s commitment to engendering healthy competition among the licensees, the cost of services has been democratized 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.” Deolu Okunjo, President of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), and Sina Bilesanmi, President of the Association of Telephone, Cable and Internet Subscribers of Nigeria, (ACTIS), responded to the request of the telecoms operators. Sina Bilesanmi requests that ALTON not raise the tariff at this moment.

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