Don’t Review Interconnection Rates Upward, Telecom Subscribers Beg NCC

The National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) has appealed to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to abolish its proposed plan to upward review of the interconnection rates for voice services. This plea by NATCOMS comes after the Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Umar Danbatta revealed on Wednesday that NCC was set to review the interconnection rate for voice services as a result of the current market realities.

NATCOM’s President, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo spoke to pressmen in Lagos on Saturday that with the current economic situation of the country, recession to be precise, the review of the interconnection rates is not a thing of necessity.
“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.”, Ogunbajo said.

“’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.”

“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 stated.

He also opined that the telecommunications sector should instead, look and think towards reducing the price down to  N20 per minute from the present rate of N50 per minute which has been in existence since 2001.

Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC (as earlier mentioned), said on Wednesday in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja that NCC was set to review the interconnection rate for voice services which has been fixed since April 1, 2013 and this is coming due to the current market realities.

Speaking at a Stakeholders’ Forum on Cost-Based Study for the Determination of Mobile Voice Termination Rate in Abuja, he said that the commission had carried out an in-depth cost study. He further went on to say that since the last determination, which was made actionable form April 2013, the country’s communication market had witnessed tremendous growth in both subscriber quantity, as well as traffic volumes.
According to Danbatta, “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.”

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