Indications emerged at the weekend that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is set to come down hard on the country’s telecommunications firms over poor service quality.
THISDAY checks revealed that the commission has formally notified the affected firms and has set December 31 as deadline for them to improve on their service.
Failure by the telecoms firms to comply with the deadline, according to NCC, will attract stiffer penalties including payment of fine and suspension from sale of new SIM cards among others.
Telecommunications firms, especially mobile telephone companies, have continued to attract criticisms from members of the public over poor quality of service, including drop calls and unsolicited text messages sent to subscribers.
Consequently, the NCC has communicated its decision to issue new quality service regulations to the management of all the affected companies.
The letter dated December 10, a copy of which was made available to THISDAY, notified the operators of the readiness of NCC to issue a direction on the quality of service, which must be complied with by all the operators.
The letter read in part, “The commission after careful investigation of the quality of service of all the major network operators has concluded that the present service being provided by telecommunications service providers falls below the Key Performance Indicators published by the commission in the quality service regulation.
“The commission, having critically reviewed the declining quality of service, had decided to issue a direction pursuant to Section 21 and 54 of the Nigerian Communication Act 2003.“Failure to comply with any direction that may be issued pursuant to the above notice will result in the imposition of sanction in the amount of N5 million and a further sum of N500,000 per day after the expiration of the notice for as long as the contravention persists and calculated from the deadline specified by the commission for the operators to meet the commission’s standard of quality of service.”
The letter was signed by Director, Legal and Regulatory Services, NCC, Mrs. Josephine Amuwa.
The letter was addressed to MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, Airtel Networks, Etisalat Limited, Globacom Limited, Swift Network, Intercellular Nigeria Plc, Multilinks Telecoms Limited and Visafone Communications Limited.
Spokesperson of the commission, Mr. Reuben Mouka, declined to comment on the issue, but a source confided in THISDAY that the penalties for default might include suspension from sale of new lines, among others.
The source added that by implication, if any of the KPIs failed to comply by December 31, such would warrant stoppage of the sale of SIM cards by the erring operators, raising the fairs that all the operators may be affected as most of them are not performing to the satisfaction of the key consumers especially in the area of drop calls, which has become more rampant in recent times.
According to the source, the stoppage of SIM cards would not preclude issuance of sanctions as done in 2012 as the commission is angered by the fact that the KPIs were lowered after the sanctions but the operators did not meet the terms of agreement it entered with the commission to improve quality over a 12 month- period during which it promised to meet with the KPIs.
All the operators were sanctioned N1.170 billion in May 2012 for failing in different KPIs.