MTN, Airtel and Glo face threat of sanctions in Nigeria

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has threatened to fine the country’s three largest mobile operators by subscribers – MTN Nigeria, Globacom and Airtel Nigeria – if they fail to improve the quality of their services (QoS) by the end of November.

The MTN Group even captured this threat in the third quarter report for 2011, stating in the last paragraph of page one that “MTN Nigeria received notice from the Nigerian Communications Commission (“NCC”) that it, together with two other operators (Glo and Airtel), had not complied with the NCC quality of service requirements.

“Further that MTN Nigeria had 30 days from 1 November 2011 to meet the set targets as set out in the notice. Failure to comply will result in the NCC directive in the time frame given, will require all new sales of SIM cards to be stopped and the imposition of a financial penalty. ”

Nigerian national daily, This Day, reported that following an independent monitoring exercise carried out by the NCC across the country, the regulator determined that the three operators failed to measure up to four key performance indicators (KPI), comprising call setup success rate, call completion rate, stand-alone dedicated control channel, and handover success rate.

The NCC has subsequently given the three GSM operators a 30-day deadline, effective November 1, 2011, to improve their service quality, adding that if they fail to do so, they face a fine of N5 million (US$31,000) and an additional penalty of N500,000 per day if the provision of poor quality services persists.

In addition, any of the three operators that fail to meet the targets from November 30, 2011 will be barred from the further sale of SIM cards or addition of any new subscribers to its network.

Any new SIM card sold, or additional subscriber added to the network in contravention of the directive, will also attract a penalty of N1million per subscriber.

Sections of the Nigerian media quoted a letter NCC issued to the three operators saying “It is not in doubt that the customer experience on your network has been far from satisfactory, especially as the Commission has been inundated with complaints from various subscribers on this matter.”

The NCC also expressed concerns that the operators were not doing enough to reverse the trend of unacceptable quality of service which has persisted for too long.

Meanwhile, MTN captured in its third quarter report that it was engaged with NCC on the content and consequences of the allegations of poor quality of service.

Reports also say the three operators have in some form, exonerated themselves from blame, shifting it to wilful destruction of their facilities by persons within and outside the sector.

This is similar to Ghana where telecom operators have recently been blaming poor quality of service on multiple fibre cuts on daily basis due to massive road construction currently going on in country.

Glo is due to start mobile services in Ghana sometime next month and it had promised to do so aggressively and from almost 100% coverage. Glo has also promised to be competitive in terms of prices, products, and quality of service (QoS), which not many operators in Ghana can brag about.

Meanwhile, in Ghana the telecom operators have also raised questions about the quantum of fines for failure to meet QoS standards, but the regulator, National Communication Authority (NCA) has said those fines have been gazetted and could not just be adjusted.

By Samuel Nii Narku Dowuona

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