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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said it will raise the standard of Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for telecoms operators by January next year.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, who dropped the hint in Lagos, told THISDAY that the move became necessary in order to maintain high standards of service quality across networks.
In technical parlance, KPI is a telecoms terminology that sets standards of service quality for all telecoms operators. It sets a minimum standard in various areas of telecoms service delivery, and once the standard is set the regulator monitors the network, based on the given parameters, to ensure that no operator falls below the set standard.
Juwah said the commission had to agree with telecoms operators to lower the initial KPI standard in 2012, following complaints by the operators that the standards were too high for them to meet, as a result of the harsh telecoms operating environment in the country.
NCC had on May 11, 2012, imposed a combined fine N1.17 billion on the four GSM operators for failing the KPI test carried out on their networks for the months of March and April of that year.
The commission gave the operators until May 25, 2012 to pay the fine or risk a penalty of N2.5 million daily as long as the contravention persists.
Disturbed by the fine, the four GSM operators colluded not to pay the fine, until NCC addressed the challenges the operators were facing in rendering telecoms services to the people.
The operators had several consultations with the NCC, but the commission refused to shift grounds and insisted that the fine must be paid.
Eventually the fine was paid, after an agreement reached between the operators and the NCC to reduce the KPI standard, which they said was difficult to meet, due to the harsh telecoms environment as at then.
Having enjoyed two years period of grace, Juwah said the commission would reverse to the initial KPI standards of the telecoms industry.
"After the 2012 fine on all GSM operators for not meeting the set standards of our KPI, we had an understanding with the telecoms operators to lower the standards and that is the reason why telecoms operators have been passing our KPI standards since last year. In January, we will revert to the original KPI the commission is known for, and we will strictly adhere to it, because we have given the operators enough time to address the issue of poor service quality in the industry," Juwah said.
Juwah who was in Lagos at the Telecoms Executive and Regulator's Forum organised by the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), also said: "We have not sanctioned operators of late, because we reduced the KPI and all of them have been meeting the lowered standards, but it is time we raise the bar again in order to address the issue of service quality that is still lingering in the industry."
President of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), Mr. Deolu Ogunbanjo, who hailed the decision of NCC to raise the KPI, told THIDAY that the issue of poor service quality needed quick and urgent intervention from the regulator.
Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, told THISDAY that operators were ready to cope with the new standards, provided that all variables militating against improved service delivery are addressed by the NCC. He insisted that service quality had improved in recent times.