20th January, 2015
Years after the revolution witnessed in the telecommunication services sector, Nigerian subscribers continue to grapple with poor and unreliable services with no compensation by the service providers.
According to available statistic, telecoms services providers operating in Nigeria are among the most profitable operators across the world. The four GSM operators share the Nigerian huge market which is the largest in Africa and tenth largest in the world.
According to information obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC website, a distribution of Nigerian subscribers base shows that MTN has 58.5 million; Globacom, 27.3 million; Airtel, 25.3 million; and Etisalat, 19.3 million. This has naturally translated to huge profits for these companies.
It was expected that the huge income the telecom companies (telcos) are making in the country would be reinvested here to provide facilities for enhanced service delivery. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Instead, the subscribers to the various telcos across the land are reeling under myriads of poor services and irregularities which border on breach of contract. The lapses include dropped calls, network congestion, failed calls, failed SMS, unsolicited SMS and distracting advert calls, call misdirection, charging for unsubscribed services, failed or delayed access to help lines among others.
The subscribers’ frustration is aggravated by the fact that no network is totally exempt from the recurrent problems, thus making the much hyped option of changing networks unattractive. It is perplexing that instead of tackling these serious problems; the telcos continue to launch campaigns and promotional stunts to outdo their competitors in winning more subscribers.
This scramble further congests the overstretched network and worsens the service delivery nationwide. In a desperate bid to get services, many Nigerians are constrained to subscribe to two or more networks, and yet hardly get the promised services or value for money while the telcos smile to the bank with their huge earnings.
We condemn the poor service delivery and unethical practices of the nation’s telecom service providers as they obviously contravene the rights of the consumers under the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, which established the National Communications Commission (NCC) to regulate the Telecoms sector, and the Consumer Protection Act 2004.
We quite appreciate the challenges of inadequate infrastructure, especially defective public power supply to power about 25,000 base stations maintained by telcos across the country leading to higher overhead costs. We call on the power generation and distribution companies to up their ante and deliver adequate uninterrupted power to boost the energy needs of the telcos and other critical sectors of the economy to cut cost and ensure optimum service delivery.
While appreciating the efforts of the NCC as the telecoms sector regulator to cause the telcos to play by the rules by imposing heavy fines on them for poor services as done recently, the NCC should unequivocally support the demand of the consumers to be compensated for inadequate or failed services by their telcos. The telecom service providers should suspend their campaigns for subscribers until they deploy more facilities to back up their services. They should also invigorate their services and holistically address the complaints of their customers.