The National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) has urged the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) not to review the interconnection rates for voice services upward.
NATCOM’s President, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, told newsmen on Saturday in Lagos that the review of the interconnection rates was not necessary, with the present economic situation of the country.
Interconnection or termination rates are the charges which one telecommunications operator charges the other, for terminating calls on its network.
The 2013 rates, which took effect from April 1, 2013, has major operators terminating calls on new entrants/smaller operators’ networks at N6.40, while the smaller operators do same on major operators’ networks at N4.90.
“’I don’t think this is the right time to do any upward review. Government and its agencies should be sensitive to the plight of the people.
“’Government should understand that we are in recession and it is affecting every pocket; so, it is not a right time of increasing telecommunications tariffs,’’ Ogunbajo said.
He said that instead of reviewing the rates upward, the regulatory body should consider a downward review.
“NCC is not in the habit of reviewing downward; however, downward review will be a welcome development in view of the present economic situation,” Ogunbajo said.
He said that the telecommunications umpire should look at bringing down the price cap of N50 per minute to N20 per minute, since the cap had been on since 2001.
According to him, data tariff, voice tariff and other communication services should be reviewed downwards.
The Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said on Wednesday in Abuja that in light of current market realities, NCC was set to review the interconnection rates for voice services, which has been fixed in 2013.
Danbatta said at a Stakeholders’ Forum on Cost-Based Study for the Determination of Mobile Voice Termination Rate that the commission had carried out an in-depth cost study.
He said that since the last determination, which took effect April 2013, the country’s communication market had witnessed tremendous growth in both subscriber numbers as well as traffic volumes.
“The sector has witnessed changes in available technologies (2G, 2.5G, 3G and 4G) and other network elements, including global financial markets, which have an impact over inputs such as cost of capital.
“The scale of changes will inevitably affect the unit cost of providing services, including interconnection, and may lead to differences between regulated interconnection rates and underlying costs.
“This, in turn, may result in differences between on-net and off- net retail tariffs.
“It is very important we ensure that interconnection services are not only fairly-priced and non-discriminative, but should reflect the cost of providing such services in the market.
“It is in this regard that the commission has decided to review the rates set in its 2013 determination, in the light of current market realities,’’ Danbatta said.