The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) and the mobile operators must collaborate to resolve the lingering problem of poor quality of service that continue to undermine mobile telephony services for consumers in Nigeria.
[blockquote right=”pull-right”]”As such, it is in the government’s interests to create and implement policies that provide an enabling environment for communication service providers. Indeed, laws should be established that protect telecommunications infrastructure and prosecute the vandals and individuals who sabotage telecom operations in the country.”[/blockquote]
That is the view of the International Data Corporation (IDC), the US research and advisory services company, which reckons that continued imposition of sanctions on mobile phone companies by the telecoms regulator may prove an ineffective mechanism for addressing service quality challenges.
On the issue of SIM cards sales ban, Oluwole Babatope a telecommunications and networking research analyst with IDC West Africa says that “banning sales of SIM cards is a new hammer for the regulatory body, and one it has introduced in an attempt to compel operators to comply with its stated QoS standards. Fines and limitations on marketing activities were the traditional sanctions of choice for the NCC, so this latest action marks a significant shift in thinking.”
According to Babatope, “IDC believes the ban on selling SIM cards will likely be as ineffective as the previous tactics because there is much more to enabling effective QoS than mere input or effort from the operator side.”
The mobile market in Nigeria grew from just 400,000 lines in 2001 to over 120 million users today, with mobile phone penetration reaching 87% of the population, according to IDC which underscores the impressive service penetration in the Nigerian telecoms market.
But poor quality of service, QoS remains the bane of the Nigerian telecommunications industry, says IDC which notes that NCC had at various times imposed sanction on telcos with the latest being the banning of Airtel, Globacom and MTN from selling SIM cards and suspending them from engaging in any promotional activity until their QoS levels reached standards stipulated by the regulator.
However, lack of infrastructure in the country, security issues with numerous reports over the last two years of widespread and persistent vandalism of fibre cables, theft of diesel generators from cell sites and destruction of fibre cables during road construction are some of the factors that have bedeviled the telecommunications industry in Nigeria, IDC says.
Proffering the way forward, IDC explains that the government should protect and not persecute this sector of the economy. “The telecommunications vertical in Nigeria has consistently increased its contribution to GDP over recent years, rising from about 2% in 2006 to 8% in 2013,” Babatope says. “As such, it is in the government’s interests to create and implement policies that provide an enabling environment for communication service providers. Indeed, laws should be established that protect telecommunications infrastructure and prosecute the vandals and individuals who sabotage telecom operations in the country.”
None of this absolves the operators of all responsibility, however. “IDC is also of the opinion that operators must invest more in hybrid power solutions,” continues Babatope. “After all, it is common knowledge that the supply of public electricity is unreliable and will likely remain a significant challenge for some time to come. Operators should therefore be proactive in seeking out cost-effective alternatives for power generation. Hybrid power solutions, which combine renewable and non-renewable energy sources, should help reduce operational expenditure on networks, thereby enabling the operators to invest more in their networks across the country and ultimately improve the customer experience.”