With the payment of the N1.17 billion fine last week imposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on MTN, Airtel, Glo and Airtel for poor quality of service (QoS) for the months of March and April, the disagreement over the modalities for monitoring of individual networks and sanction fees have also been resolved.
However, the major issue of poor QoS to consumers who bear the cost for keeping the network running remains.
The NCC had on March 10, 2012 sanctioned the mobile operators for failing to meet up with the minimum standard of QoS for the months of March and April 2012. The regulator had waived the months of January and February following pleas by the operators to give them time to improve their networks.
NCC fined Airtel, MTN, Glo, and Etisalat N270m, N360m, N180 and N360m respectively for failing to keep up with the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as specified in Schedule 1 Table 2 of the Quality of Service Regulations 2012 through letters jointly signed by U. Maska, Head, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement and Josephine Amuwa, Director, Legal and Regulatory Services on behalf of the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah.
Among the issues raised by the mobile operators for disputing the sanctions were the long period it takes for them to get clearance for deploying infrastructures especially base transceiver station (BTS), Right of Way (RoW) for laying fibre optic cables and incessant multiple taxations from different agencies and levels of government.
Two weeks ago, the Ministries of Works and that of Communications Technology agreed on new guidelines to ease the deployment of telecom infrastructure. As a way of fast-tracking deployment, government mandated operators to share infrastructure to reduce cost of operations and eliminate multiple facilities dotting the landscape.
According to Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson and her counterpart in the Ministry of Works, Mike Onolememen, operators will now be granted RoW permits within 30 calendar days after application. The RoW guidelines will guide laying of fibre cables on federal highways. It pegs the chargeable RoW access fee for laying of ICTSP ducts and cables at N145.0/linear metre and N20.0/linear metre as annual maintenance access fee, subject to periodic reviews at five year intervals or whenever compelling circumstances demand such reviews.
Also recently, Mrs. Omobola Johnson and her counterpart in the Environment Ministry, Hajia Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia resolved the long dispute between National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and NCC that led to shutdown of BTS in Abuja and its environs by NESREA. NESREA was directed to withdraw its condition of compulsory 18 months duration for telecom service providers to carry out Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report that is acceptable to the agency to 12 weeks only.
Though Glo, MTN, Etisalat and Airtel said they have invested more than N1 trillion in building and enhancing their mobile networks over the last 10 years and that they are adding a further N400 billion this year to enhance infrastructure across their networks, it is expected the measures by government through the regulators will give them opportunity to improve their service to telecom consumers.