• ‘Telephony service quality can’t be 100% unless…’

    telephony service quality cant be 100 unless - nigeria newspapers online
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    ALTON proposes discriminatory tariffs, awaits cost-based study

    Telecommunications operators have said telephony services would only improve if the various challenges confronting the sector are removed. Speaking under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), the operators said many challenges currently limit the provision of optimal services in the country.

    The Chairman, ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, on a television programme on ChannelsTV, monitored by The Guardian, at the weekend, admitted that the demand for good quality of service is a fair one, but noted that where operators face the problems they are facing, “it’s difficult to guarantee good quality of service, that’s the truth.

    “In the face of all that I have mentioned, it’s a bit difficult to guarantee that there will be 100 per cent availability of services. From vandalisation to behaviour of public actors, even the behaviour as subscribers and the rest of them, it’s a bit difficult.”

    Adebayo, an engineer, who disclosed that because of various challenges, the sector was no longer attracting investments, stressed that this is more worrisome.

    According to him, given what has happened to the economy in the last months, people are no longer investing, including the big players and that could mean that the system will go out of service, the system will become of age, and new things will not happen.

    “If you don’t invest in a sector, you can’t talk about the quality of service, you can’t talk about right pricing and the rest of it.

    “It’s now more worrisome if the sector is not attracting new investment because that means that machines will go old, they will not be replaced, exchanges will go down, they will not be replaced, software will go out of version, they will not be replaced and all of that. So, there are issues that we need to look at holistically. When the public demands good quality services, operators demand support from the government; the government should do its part otherwise sanctions and penalties will not solve the problem.

    “You can penalise operators for not meeting the good quality of service index but the fact is that in many cases, these factors are beyond the operators. If you look at the numbers, fibre cuts last year translated to several billions of naira. The cost of replacing that can be ploughed back into rebuilding the infrastructure if that didn’t happen in the first instance. Who cuts the fibre? Contractors of government during road construction. We don’t want the gains we have seen in the telecoms sector in the last 20 years reversed,” he stated.

    On the clamour for a tariff hike, the ALTON Chairman said there is a price window today of a minimum of N6.40 per call, saying operators can move within that price band based on previous regulatory approval.

    Adebayo said the clamour has been that NCC should unfreeze that point and allow telcos to move within the current price window while a cost study is being conducted.

    “So, I will not be right to say that one per cent, two per cent and 10 per cent or more increase should be done without referring to statistics and cost study. That’s what we are asking the regulator to do: a cost study on the actual cost of providing services. While that is ongoing, allow us to move within the current price window which is between the N6.40 and N6.90 per call thereabout,” he stated.

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