25 OCTOBER 2013
The rate at which the services of the nation's major telecommunications operators has degenerated in recent times is embarrassing and unacceptable.
This decline in quality of service often results in situation where calls are so difficult to place both within and across networks, while short messages or texts most often take several days to be delivered. With dropped calls and non-completion of calls now acceptable practices by the telecoms providers, the euphoria and relief that greeted the advent of the general system for mobile communications (GSM) about 12 years ago seem to be on the wane.
Not surprisingly, in their usual penchant to escape a public problem for which they have little or no control, many Nigerians now carry no fewer than three mobile phone handsets with different networks. Even with that expensive habit, there is no end to the litany of woes which the Nigerian subscriber goes through as there are periods when none of the networks would work. For those who use the internet, many have also resorted to subscribing to no fewer than three or four internet modems because a single service provider will surely disappoint. This state of affair definitely cannot be allowed to continue and we call on the National Communications Commission (NCC) to intervene on behalf of the subscribers.
It is noteworthy that due to the declining quality of service by the telecoms providers, the NCC last year imposed a fine of N1.17 billion on all the major operators and a further ban on all manner of promotions. At the peak of the dubious promotional campaigns It is noteworthy that due to the declining quality of service by the telecoms providers, the NCC last year imposed a fine of N1.17 billion on all the major operators and a further ban on all manner of promotions.
At the peak of the dubious promotional campaigns there was no trick that was not employed by the operators to win over subscribers or to compel them to spend more money on services in return for very ludicrous prizes. At a point telecommunication operations turned into one big network of gambling business while quality of service nosedive, until the NCC waved the flag.
Unfortunately it now seems the sanctions have failed to yield any positive result. If anything, the services of virtually all the network operators are still below standard. Even at that, there is abundant evidence that Nigeria remains a major growing market for telecoms operators as the nation's teledensity has continued to grow. Available statistics reveal a phenomenal rise in the number of subscribers even when there is no commensurate investment in infrastructure by the telecoms companies.
Indeed, it would seem that the higher the teledensity, the worse off the subscribers become. Last year, industry operators blamed this lamentable situation on a series of natural and man-made mishaps which dealt serious blows to their infrastructure and equipment. For instance the heavy floods that devastated the nation's landscape was said to have taken a toll on telecommunications facilities across the country and that it would be quite some time before services would be fully restored as some of the flood affected areas were out of reach for several months. But the worst calamity to befall the industry was the attack on the facilities and equipment of some major operators by the Boko Haram group who deliberately targeted their locations in parts of the north.
Notwithstanding the temporary setback which these incidents may have occasioned, the fact remains that subscribers and consumers of telecommunications services are not getting value for their money. That is why we enjoin the NCC to be alive to its oversight responsibility. Operators that fail to key into the schemes should be sanctioned in addition to having their licences suspended. Whatever it will take to enforce compliance must be done to ensure that subscribers are spared the agony of poor service delivery from the networks.