Recently, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in a public statement warned MTN, Globacom and Airtel that it would stop them from selling Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards by the end of this month if they fail to improve the quality of service (QoS) on their mobile networks.
The telecommunications regulator who issued the operators a 30-day ultimatum with effect from November 1, 2011, went further by saying that any new SIM card sold, or additional subscriber added to the network in contravention of the direction, would attract a penalty of N1,000,000 ( one million naira) per subscriber added.
The Commission indicated that after the expiration of the 30-day deadline, it would strictly enforce the impending directive which contravention will attract a penalty of N5,000,000 ( Five Million Naira), and additional N500,000( Five Hundred Thousand Naira) per day that such contravention persists. In addition to the above, failure of any of the operators to meet the quality of service targets from November 30, 2011 would attract a fine of N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) for every month of failure.
According to Mr. Reuben Mouka, Head, Media and Public Relations, NCC, this deadline follows a dismal performance by the three operators on quality of service from the result of an independent monitoring exercise carried out by the Commission across the country which showed that all the three operators failed to meet with four key performance indicators (KPIs) that are crucial for quality of service improvements as set by the Commission.
“It is not in doubt that the customer experience on your network has been far from satisfactory, especially as the Commission has been inundated with complaints from various subscribers on this matter”, it said in the correspondence to the three respective operators in which it expressed concerns that the operators were not doing enough to reverse the trend of unacceptable quality of service which had persisted for too long.
The Key Performance indicators measured by the Commission included Call Set Up Success Rate, Call Completion Rate, Stand Alone Dedicated Control Channel and Handover Success Rate.
Since the advent of the telecom boom especially, global service for mobile communications (GSM) in the country, Nigerians have come to associate poor quality of system as part of the price they have to pay for inadequate telecommunications infrastructure.
Industry analysts acknowledge that it’s no longer news that at times a subscriber may have to dial more than five times before connecting a call. That call may at times be affected by what is called noise in communications parlance, that is, the caller may experience some conflicting sounds from another line or his/her call is inaudible.
Also, the caller may as well not be able to complete that call and may have to repeat the call several times just to pass his/her message across to the receiver. Nigerian subscribers have at times put a call across and someone else unknown to them picks the call only for them to redial the same number and it will go to the right person they are trying to reach.
Ban On Sales Promotions
It is common knowledge that since the Nigerian telecom regulator lifted the ban on sales promotions by mobile service providers; the quality of service has worsened. Early this year the mobile operators lobbied the regulator to allow them conduct promos aimed at celebrating 10 years of telecom revolution in Nigeria.
The NCC said no, urging the operators to improve their telecom networks before such request could be granted. Now, sales promos in various guises such as SIM Registration promos, free credit promos, 10-year anniversary promos, etc are in full swing and the congestions on the networks are back.
More Network Investments
Mr Gbenga Adebayo, president, Association of Licenced Telecom Operators of Nigeria, Alton, said the telecom market needs investments to build a network that is resilient. Nigeria currently has less than 20,000 base stations, while a city like London has more than 50, 000 base stations. The operators need to spend more on building cell sites, building data centres and transmission backbone.
The NCC has the responsibility of protecting the Nigerian telecom subscriber, ensuring that top quality services are rendered. After all, it is the subscriber that pays the bill of the operators. It behoves on the NCC to look no further and identify the cause of poor quality of service and put an end to the suffering telecom subscribers go through currently.