THE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is planning a new regulation that will compel telecoms service providers in the country to be held accountable should they fail to offer the required service quality to their subscribers.
The regulation is expected to be ratified in two weeks by the board of the commission.
With the new regulation, operators who offer service below the accepted quality thresholds will be penalised and pay a fine of N5 million in the first instance and N500, 000 for every day that poor service quality subsists until it is rectified.
NCC Chief Executive Officer, Eugene Juwah, said the commission was not folding its arms but had been hampered by a lack of regulation that has made direct action to enforce service quality unlawful.
Juwah said the time had come for operators to be more proactive and responsive to the yearnings of their subscribers especially in the area of quality of service.
He said the new regulation would give teeth to the efforts of the commission to make service quality in the industry unquestionable.
Juwah said the commission had recently appointed a task force to look into the immediate and remote causes of poor service quality, adding that the task force had come out with a draft regulation that will be presented to the Board of the commission in June.
He said that in the meantime, the commission had held meetings with operators to intimate them of the quality of service indicators observed by the commission and to call operators to order.
The NCC had two weeks ago directed all network operators in the country to take immediate steps to improve the quality of services. The regulator gave the directive after a meeting held in Abuja with representatives of all the network operators in the country.
He expressed worries about the inability of the operators to meet some of the key performance indicators for ameliorating the challenge of poor quality of service.
Technical Standard and Network Integrity Director for NCC, Balarabe Sani, said that monthly analysis had shown that network congestion has continued to increase.
“On most of the networks, there are too many dropped calls, poor network availability, poor service accessibility and poor voice quality, while one way or two way lack of audio in several connections abound”, Sani said.
He said the analysis showed that several Base Station Controllers, BSC’s are congested in terms of Radio Traffic Channels, RTCH, and Stand Alone Dedicated Control Channels, SDCCH.
Another official said where operators are expected to keep this indices below 0.1 percent, the figure stood at about 2.5 per cent in March this year, suggesting a very worrisome trend.
Representatives of the operators who spoke in turns blamed the governments at the local and state levels, as well as individuals who use jammers to dislocate services. They said in some cases, state governments made it impossible for roll out and expansion of services due to excessive taxation and impossible conditions.
The operators singled out the Abuja Capital Territory where its administration has made it extremely difficult for the operators to expand services through deployment of the required base stations.
BIMBO AMITOOKI in Lagos, Nigeria