Senate condemns telecoms poor service delivery

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Nigerian Senate has condemned the inefficiency of Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network operators in Nigeria resulting in poor service delivery.

The Senate noted that subscribers have lost billions of Naira through call disruptions.

At the plenary on Tuesday, the Senate urged the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to invoke the appropriate provisions of the law and other extant agreements, to protect consumers where necessary.

The resolutions followed a motion titled, “The increasing rate of Dropped Calls and other unwholesome practices by Telecommunication Network Operators in Nigeria that have robbed Nigerians of their hard earned billions money”, sponsored by Senator Andy Uba.

In a five point resolution, the Senate particularly charged the NCC to mandate the operators to refund consumers for disrupted calls caused by network issues and allow them have more control over their usage of data bundles as practiced by telecom operators in countries like Kenya (Safaricom) and South Africa.

It also tasked the NCC, Consumer Protection Council (CPC) the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and other regulatory agencies to carry out effective supervision of the Telecoms service providers to ensure regulatory excellence; operational efficiency and sterling service delivery.

It further directed it’s Committees on Communications and Trade & Investment to further look into the issues raised in the motion, noting that despite the warning issued by NCC on the activities of telecom operators using the dropped call mechanism to defraud Nigerians by deducting money from phone users illegally, no serious penalty has been issued against any operator to date.

In his lead debate on the motion, Senator Uba noted that “telecommunication services have gradually become an integral part of the Nigerian economy, as well as an important tool in the social-economic life of Nigerians, over the last decade”.

He observed that the Nigerian Mobile Telecommunication Subscribers have of late experienced a disturbing and yet increasing rate of dropped calls; encountered incomprehensible speech and voice quality that sounds like speaking from the bottom of a fish tank; and not been able to control bundle usage, nor the choice to restrict browsing to the resources which they have allocated resulting in a sudden and unexplained expiry of data bundle with the network automatically switching to a pricier airtime option when browsing the internet.

The lawmaker expressed worry that “all the GSM operators in Nigeria have recently been experiencing terrible congestions on their networks, thus, denying subscribers the benefits of getting value for their resources and hampering their ability to make or receive calls successfully”.

“Operators also have an unfair advantage with dropped calls from per-minute users as callers end up paying for an entire minute if a call drops in between, especially within the first few seconds,” he stated.

Senator Uba said though service providers have continued to expand their network coverage beyond what their existing infrastructure could carry, no adequate provision has been made to improve service delivery.

According to him, “A recent investigation shows that the four (4) major operators namely MTN, Airtel, Etisalat and Globacom could not provide the rate of drop calls on their networks; and they appear not to see the reason to compensate their customers for disconnected calls or address their frustrations”.

President of the Senate Dr. Bukola Saraki in a remark said the issue of poor service delivery by network operators in the country, has been on for some time and mandated the Committee on Communication to urgently look into it with a view to finding a lasting solution to the nagging issue.

Sammie Idika