Regulator begins service quality probe of ‘Big Three’ GSM operators

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has commenced fresh service quality verification tests offered by the three biggest GSM operators in the country amid the expiration of the November 30 deadline for them to improve service quality or risk a sales ban.

Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Tony Ojobo confirmed the commencement of the quality of service (QoS) tests in an interview with Technology Times at the weekend saying that fresh tests promised by the telecoms regulator have been set in motion and are currently underway across sample locations across the country.

Ojobo did not give further details of the QoS tests being conducted officials of the telecoms regulatory agency to crosscheck that key performance indicators (KPIs) mandated by NCC have been met at the expiration of the November 30 deadline to the affected operators.

Hitherto, NCC directed the Big 3 players, MTN, Glo Mobile and Airtel that control over 90 per cent market share, to meet some defined KPIs or risk being banned from selling new SIM cards, a development that will prevent them from adding new subscribers.

The regulator says its intention to impose the sales ban arose from overwhelming complaints by subscribers over flagging network quality by the affected operators.

Following the expiration of the deadline, officials of NCC have now swung into action to conduct detailed tests hoped to gather information about the prevailing state of network operation and allied service quality determinants, says the NCC’s spokesman.

NCC did not offer hints about the coverage areas for the test nor the time frame but promised that the result should be ready before the end of this month. The outcome will also inform further steps that will be taken on the intention to bar any of the erring three GSM operators from adding new lines, Ojobo adds

Industry insiders have ruled out the possibility of any of the affected networks being able to meet the strict condition on service quality by the deadline stipulated by NCC, a development that may have seen them brace up for the regulatory hammer.

“NCC is committed to the enforcement of the intention earlier communicated to the affected operators but this will be done in a scientific and empirical manner”, Ojobo had told Technology Times in a previous interview.

NCC’s stance comes in the wake of a 30-day ultimatum that the three operators improve poor quality of service offered their subscribers across the country or face the full wrath of the telecoms regulatory agency.

The threat followed result of the dismal performance by the three operators on quality of service following the outcome of an independent nationwide monitoring exercise carried out by NCC, says the regulator.

The result of the exercise revealed that trio failed to level up with four key performance indicators (KPI) laid down by NCC to improve the quality of service rendered, the regulator says underscoring that unless they attain the defined levels of service quality by November 1, 2011, they will be barred from further sale of SIM cards to add new subscribers.

A number of monetary penalties will also be imposed on operators that contravene the provisions of the directive that include a fine of N1million per new SIM card sold or additional subscriber added to the network when the sanction goes into effect.

Further defaults will also attract a penalty of N5 million per subscriber added plus N500, 000 per day that the operator contravenes the directive. This is in addition to a N500, 000 fines for every month of contravention, according to NCC.

NCC hopes to invoke provisions of the Nigerian Communications Commission Quality of Service Regulations 2011 stipulating the powers of the telecoms regulator to intervene in ensuring that operators provide efficient and effective services to their subscribers.

The regulation identifies minimum quality of service (QoS) and related measurement, reporting and recording keeping task while also saddling telecoms operators with various responsibilities to their subscriber.

According to its provisions, the Regulation seeks to protect and promote the interest of consumers against unfair practices including tariffs and charges, availability and quality of communications services, equipment and facilities, among others.

Importantly, the NCC Regulation also seeks to improve service quality by spotting service deficiencies and encouraging, enforcing and requiring appropriate changes.

Along this line, it equally seeks to maintain service quality while recognizing environmental and operating conditions and promote making information available to help with informed customer choice of services and licensees.

While also seeking to improve the operation and performance of interconnected networks, among its other objectives, the Regulation stipulates that reporting periods during which measurements are taken and recorded shall typically begin from the first day of each month to the last day of the month or “as the Commission may from time to time determine.”

The Regulation empowers the telecoms watchdog to carry out network measurement test and obtain data through drive test, Mobile Base Station Probe tests, Consumer Survey, data collection from operators or NCC Network Operating Centres (NOCs)/Network Management Centres (NMCs), among others.

“The Commission’s NOC/NMC may rely on real-time data acquired from feeds. KPI Measurements may be carried out at all network segments including at BTS, Cell, BSC or MSc levels”, says the Regulation.

 

Source : technologytimesng.com

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