3 January 2013

Nigeria: Regulator, Subscribers, Demand Better Service Quality in 2013

Unsatisfied with service quality in 2012, the industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the subscribers have tasked telecoms operators to meet their expectations in 2013.

Some subscribers and the regulator who spoke to THISDAY at different occasions, were bitter concerning service quality in 2012, and advised the telecoms operating companies on how to improve on their service and better the lots of subscribers this year.

Director, Public Affairs for NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, said Nigerians deserved the best of service quality, and urged telecoms operators to offer the best of service in 2013.

He advised operators to invest in alternative hybrid technology that will address the issue of poor electric power supply, and to be more responsive to their subscribers, especially in meeting their needs.

He equally called for expansion of infrastructure and for operators to be more accountable to subscribers by informing them of every step taken while carrying out network upgrade.

Telecoms lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, was quite bitter concerning the poor service quality in 2012.

According to him, "the erratic service quality in 2012 is the worst unmitigated disaster that ever happened to telecoms subscribers since the inception of Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) service rollout in 2001." Virtually everyone with a mobile phone was affected, irrespective of the network that was subscribed to, he said, insisting that "frivolous promos and lotteries," largely contributed to the network challenges, and hailed the NCC for the general ban of such promos and lotteries across networks.

Narrating his ordeal of service quality in 2012, Ogunye said the worst aspect of it was that operators kept charging subscribers for uncompleted and unsuccessful calls, as well as undelivered text messages. "The promos that were running across networks in 2012, were to me, a promotion of inefficiency and provocation, because they kept signing on new subscribers after each promo, yet they refused to expand their networks to freely accommodate new subscribers," Ogunye told THISDAY in a telephone conversation.

He advised telecoms operators to own up if their network becomes saturated, to enable new subscribers freely move to networks whose capacity is yet to be saturated, instead of clustering in already saturated network.

Ogunye said he wanted operators to improve on their service quality, by embarking on systems upgrade and network expansion, using the right equipment and technology.

He equally called on more regulatory activities from the NCC and the Consumers Protection Council (CPC), in order to address the issue of service quality within the first quarter of the year.

President of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Lanre Ajayi, was however optimistic that the operators would get it right this year, following a number of strategies put in place by the operators.

According to him, the operators were also worried over the ugly situation, and were doing something to address it.

He however advised operators to speed up the process of capacity expansion of their network infrastructure, and challenged government to create enabling environment for telecoms operators to strive.

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