As part of efforts to combat the degenerating Quality of Service (QoS) and to ameliorate the recurrent inaccessibility to foreign exchange (forex) faced by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other service providers, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has written to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefile.
According to a statement signed by the Director of Public Affairs of the Commission, Mr. Tony Ojobo, which was made available to eBusiness Life by email, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta told the operators in an interactive session in Abuja recently, that the Commission had written to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele and he was favourably disposed to addressing the forex needs of the operators.
“Specifically, as a follow up to the letter, the Executive Commissioner (Stakeholders Management), NCC, Mr. Sunday Dare had a meeting with Mr. Emefiele and extracted a commitment from him on how he hoped to address the forex needs of the operators,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the Commission has also declared a state of emergency on the Quality of Service. Danbatta said, since the NCC had declared 2017 as the year of the consumer, all hands should be on deck for telecom consumers to have a fresh lease to high Quality of Service. “The consumer has to be treated with dignity” Danbatta added, saying the “8-point agenda drives this point home”.
The NCC, he explained, has put measures in place to check and monitor Quality of Service (QoS) on various networks “and we have sent this report to our task force on QoS and have been interacting with governments at different levels as part of the measures to deal with the poor QoS”.
Danbatta admonished the operators and co-location service operators to provide suggestions on how to address the situation.
Earlier, NCC’s Executive Commissioner (Technical Services), Mr. Ubale Maska said, QoS has been a great concern as consumers inundate the Commission with complaints.
“It requires everybody’s input if the situation has to be redressed, hence 2017 has been declared the year of the Consumer”. NCC Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity (DTSNI), Dr. Fidelis Ona, explained that the Commission is aware of some of the challenges which include Right of Way (RoW), 2
Force Majeure, Difficulty in acquiring new cell sites, multiple taxation and regulation, vandalism, power supply among others.
“We are engaging stakeholders, including Industry Working Group on Quality of Service, special committee on Counter Harmonization to address this”.
NCC’s Head, Quality of Service Unit, Engr. Edoyemi Ogoh in his presentation traced poor quality of service to fibre cuts, and community issues, among others.
He said in October 2016, operators experienced 175 cuts across the nation while they recorded 180 cuts in November and 103 in December, 2016.
There were 113 community issues in October 2016, 74 in November and 133 in December, adding that fibre cuts and community issues remain major drawbacks for QoS. In their various presentations, some of the operators painted a grim picture of their encounters especially in an economy that is going broke.
Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at MTN Nigeria, Mr. Hassan Jamil expressed happiness with the interactive session, so that the regulator can know our situation one on one basis…
“He said demand for both voice and data services are on the rise but we are unable to catch up on investment because of scarce forex availability”.
The catalogue of woes he listed included inability to import equipment to boost expansion:
We can’t transmit forex to vendors
Incessant fibre cuts
Community related challenges
Scarcity of diesel to power base stations
Right of Way issues with different layers of government in the regions
Sabotage at different levels
We planned 100 sites for Abuja but after a very longtime we were only able to build six because of the bottlenecks of getting approvals and until we resolve these, quality of service will be a mirage”
Similar situations were painted by representatives of Globacom Limited, Airtel Nigeria, Etisalat, American Towers Company (ATC), IHS Limited, among others.
The EVC encouraged the operators to be more creative by adopting alternative source of energy like solar power as a stop gap.