News : Pushing for Improved Telecom Services
Abuja, Nigeria, July 30, 2015 -- Stakeholders and advocacy groups in the telecoms industry often blame the industry regulator for challenges faced by subscribers as they continue to push for sanctions against erring operators.
From the inception of Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) in 2001, the bane of the industry, as perceived by industry stakeholders, has been poor service delivery, despite the lofty achievements of the sector.
The sector has attained over 146 million active subscriber lines across networks as at May 2015, compared to the 400,000 subscriber lines the sector recorded before the advent of GSM. In spite of the achievements, industry stakeholders have continued to come hard on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms industry regulator, asking it to continually sanction operators for every downtime experienced on their networks.
Apart from its core functions of ensuring robust regulation of telecommunication service providers, who are encouraged to treat the subscribers as kings and queens, the NCC is often seen by some critics as a law enforcement agency that should perhaps arrest and prosecute erring operators. Although the NCC had in the past, sanctioned operators whose network operations fell below standards at some point in time, through various fines, but critics are of the view that the sanction should be continuous and should even be extended to the withdrawal of operating licences, but the NCC, which has always applied the human face to telecoms regulation, says stiff regulation could stiffen telecoms growth and in the process, erode the gains of telecoms since the inception of GSM in 2001.
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Worried by the perceived challenges in the telecoms sector, which include incessant call drops, inability to recharge phones, faulty billing system, unsolicited text messages, call diversion, inability to make successful calls, billing undelivered text messages, among others, most advocacy groups in the telecoms industry, have continually called on NCC to impose stiff sanctions on the operators. They have blamed the operators for the challenges faced by subscribers, insisting that most operators are not investing enough in infrastructure and network expansion, in the same manner at which they rake in new subscribers on their network. They argued that subscriber number is on the increase on a daily basis, to the extent that over 146 million active users exist across networks, yet the number of base transceiver stations (BTS), commonly called base stations, are not enough to service the growing number of subscribers.
However, the operators are complaining of harsh government intervention in telecoms matters in most states of the federation. According to the operators, state and local governments impose arbitrary levies on telecoms operations and deny them approval of Right of Way (RoW) to lay infrastructure cables and telecoms equipment. Although the operators see these as major challenges, but the critics think they are not enough reasons to deny customers the right to quality service, after spending their hard earned money, which is not even enough to address family needs. They said these challenges often affect expansion plan, thereby leading to network congestion and subsequent drop in service quality, but the critics are of the view that unless stiff sanctions are imposed on every erring operator, they will not sit up to provide quality service to the people.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Global System for Mobile Communications:
GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications, originally Groupe Spécial Mobile), is a standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to describe protocols for second-generation (2G) digital cellular networks used by mobile phones, first deployed in Finland in July 1991.
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