The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has ordered MTN and Airtel to immediately reverse the hike in their data tariff plan which they implemented on their respective networks last week.
MTN and Airtel subscribers suddenly realised that the operators had commenced a new data tariff plan which was an upward review of the cost of their voice and data plan, without prior notice.
Airtel for instance, increased its monthly bundle for data plan to N1,100 for 1.5GB monthly data; N1200 for 2GB monthly data; N1,500 for 3GB monthly data; N2,200 for 4.5GB monthly data; N2,500 for 6GB monthly data; N3,300 for 10GB monthly data; N4,400 for 11GB monthly data; N5,500 for 20GB monthly data.
On the other hand, MTN also increased its monthly bundle for data plan to N1,100 for 1.5GB monthly data; N1,200 for 2GB monthly data; N1,500 for 3GB monthly data; N2,200 for 4.5GB monthly data; N2,500 for 6GB monthly data; N3,500 for 12GB; N5500 for 20GB monthly data; N6,000 for 25GB monthly data.
Following complaints by the telecom subscribers over the hike, NCC, in a statement issued on Wednesday, ordered the mobile network operators to reverse the hike.
According to the statement, which was signed by the Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Reuben Muoka, “The attention of the NCC has been drawn to media reports of unilateral implementation of the recently approved 10 per cent upward tariff adjustments for some voice and data services by the service providers, on their networks.
“The consideration for 10 per cent approval for tariff adjustments for different voice and data packages was in line with the mandates of the Commission as provided by the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, and other extant Regulations and Guidelines, as this was within the provisions of existing price floor and price cap as determined for the industry.
“The decision was also taken after a critical and realistic review and analysis of the operational environment and the current business climate in Nigeria, as it affects all sectors of the economy.
“Furthermore, even though the tariff adjustment was proposed and provisionally approved by the management, pending the final approval of the Board of the Commission, in the end it did not have the approval of the Board of the Commission. As a result, it is reversed.”
According to NCC, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, has maintained that his priority was to protect the citizens and ensure justice to all stakeholders involved.
As such, anything that would bring more hardship at this critical time would not be accepted, they added.
“This was also why he obtained the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for the suspension of the proposed five per cent excise duty, in order to maintain a conducive enabling environment for the telecom operators.
“Much as there is an increase in the cost of production, the provision of telecom services is still very profitable and it is necessary that the subscribers are not subjected to a hike in charges.
“In view of the above, the Commission, through a letter sent on the 12th of October 2022, has already directed the affected Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to reverse the upward tariff adjustment.
“The Commission will carry our further consultations with all industry stakeholders on the best approaches that will protect and uphold the interest of both the consumers and the service providers.
“The Commission will continue to entrench very transparent processes and procedures for rates determination in the industry. The process is usually carried out with wide industry consultation. It is through these processes that price floors and price caps for data and voice services are benchmarked, regularly reviewed, and determined from time to time.
“The Commission will also continue to abide by this time-tested process and international best practice to ensure efficient pricing mechanism for the telecommunications industry in Nigeria,” the statement further said.
Meanwhile, governors in the country are set to discuss how to empower the citizens with latest telecoms technologies as they partake in the maiden edition of Broadband Technical Awareness Forum for Governors (BTAF), put together by the NCC today in Abuja.
The programme, according to NCC has as its theme:
“State Broadband Coordinating Councils: Potentials and Possibilities.” It would appraise the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, which targets 70 per cent broadband penetration and to cover 90 per cent of the population.
With the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, playing host to the historic and seminal assemblage of governors under the auspices of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), some strategic members of State Executive Council, telecom operators, infrastructure companies (InfraCos), strategic partners, investors and other critical stakeholders, would brainstorm on how Nigeria could achieve the expectations of the Nigeria’s digital economy agenda, NCC said in a statement signed by its Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Reuben Muoka.