Lagos — The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has ordered all telecoms service providers to slash the cost of Short Messaging Service (SMS) to N4 per message. The cost is currently between N5 to N10.
According to the NCC Head, Media & Public Relations, Mr. Reuben Mouka, the Commission's directive which has set a new price cap of N4 for all domestic Off-Net Short Messaging Service will take effect from February 5, 2013.
Muoka explained that the directive has being communicated to the operators since January 3, 2013 adding that NCC will not place a price cap on International SMS at this time.
The regulator noted in the directive signed by the commission's Director, Legal and Regulatory Services, Ms. Josephine Amuwa that NCC arrived at the new price cap after due considerations of the submissions made by the operators at various consultative meetings.
NCC in the directive explained that having evaluated and analyzed SMS traffic information provided by the operators, the Commission noted that "there was a general recognition that the cost of SMS is too high, especially in view of the interconnection rate of N1.02 (One Naira, Two Kobo Only) for SMS as determined by the Commission in 2009."
Amuwa however, disclosed that the telecoms operators had proposed a price cap ranging between N5-10 per message for Off-Net SMS.
She said NCC in the directive indicated that it will monitor operators compliance to this development while failure to comply will be penalized as provided by section 111 of the Nigerian Communications Act NCA 2003.
The operators have appealed to the regulator also not to set a cap for international SMS due to the fact that Interconnect rates for International SMS are outside their control as it is terminated through international carrier service providers in various jurisdictions.
Meanwhile, the NCA 2003, Sections 4 and Chapter V11 which confers on NCC the authority to determine new price caps for operators stipulates that: The new rate shall be implemented within 30 days from the date of the directive. The Commission will not place a price cap on International SMS at this time but would encourage operators to work towards lowering the cost of International SMS.