NCC imposes heavy fines on telcos


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NCC imposes heavy fines on telcos

By Komumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

The regulator of Nigeria’s telecom sector, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has slammed a total fine of N1.17 billion on GSM communications operators in the country for failing to comply with the minimum standard of quality of service.

According to the NCC, while MTN and Etisalat will cough up N360 million each, Airtel and Glo will pay N270 million and N180 million respectively to the coffers of the federal government as fine.

Copies of the sanction letters addressed to the CEO of the telcos and endorsed by U A S Maska, head, Compliance Monitoring & Enforcement and Josephine Amuwa, director, Legal Services, made available to, disclosed that the sanction period covers only the months of March and April 2012.

Titled “Non-compliance with Minimum Standard of Quality of Service in the Month of March & April 2012-Notice of Sanction’ the letter addressed to the CEOs of MTN Communications Nigeria Limited, Emerging Market Telecoms Services Limited, Airtel Networks Limited and Globacoms Limited read, “The Nigerian Communications Commission had in the months of March and April 2012 monitored the standard of quality of service of…networks. The monitoring report indicated that your company had failed to meet the minimum standard of quality of service including the key performance indicators as specified in Schedule 1 Table 2 of the Quality of Service Regulation 2012.”

The letter added that whereas the NCC had noted the performance in the months of January and February 2012 as being below the specified thresholds however, for the purpose of enforcement of the new Quality of Service Regulations, the NCC had taken these periods as grace periods.

The regulator said the telco had in the two months failed to meet the minimum standard of quality of service including the KPIs as specified in Schedule 1 Table 2, arguing that the telco is in contravention of the provision Section 104 (a) of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003.

NCC said “in accordance with Paragraph 13 and Schedule 3, Paragraph 2 of the Quality of Service Regulation 2012, MTN Communications Nigeria Limited is therefore liable to pay fine to the Commission” as follows: N15 million for each parameter for a service contravened in the month of March 2012; a further sum of N2.5 million for each parameter for a service each day the contravention continued throughout the month of April 2012.

The NCC thereby directed MTN Nigeria to pay on before May 21, 2012, the total sum of N360 million being sanction for failure to meet the KPIs t for the said months. The same weight of sanction was imposed on Etisalat because the two firms committed similar misdemeanor.

For Gobacomms Limited, the telco which recently launched operations in Ghana, it will pay the total sum of N12 million for each parameter for a service contravened in the month of March and a further sum of N2.5 million for each parameter for a service for each day the contravention continued through out the month of April. The NCC therefore expects Globacomms Limited to pay the total of N180 million “being sanction for failure to meet the KPIs for the said months of March & April 2012.”

Airtel Networks Limited will pay the sum of N15 million for each parameter for a service contravened in the month of March and a further N2.5 million for each parameter for a service for each day the contravention continued throughout the month of April. Cumulatively, the “total sum of N270 million being sanction for failure to meet the KPIs for the said months of March & April.”

The commission warns all the affected operators that, “Upon failure to settle the said penalty within the stipulated period, such penalty shall attract a further sum of N2,500,000 (two million, five hundred thousand naira only) per day for as long as the contravention persists.”

In a swift reaction by MTN, Akinwale Goodluck, Corporate Services Executive at the telco stated that the company remained committed to ensuring the best quality of service for its teeming customers.

Said he: “MTN continues to employ the greatest effort to overcome the infrastructural and environmental challenges that impede the delivery of consistently good quality of service.”

He reiterated the challenges that exist in Nigeria including those related to unavailability of regular power supply, the insecurity of property, vandalization, and the menace of multiple taxation and over-regulation.

Speaking of power, he revealed that the company generates up to 80% of its power requirements, stating that MTN’s network is one of the largest in the world running almost entirely on self generated power. He further revealed that the company expends billions of Naira annually on diesel alone.

Goodluck also lamented the indiscriminate vandalisation of telecommunication infrastructure around the country. He estimated that MTN suffers more than seventy cuts to its fibre on a monthly basis. Indeed, in April this year, MTN had cause to publish full page announcements in the newspapers, alerting the public to the growing incidence of criminal damage to MTN’s infrastructure in various parts of the country and the impact on quality of service in the country, particularly the South East, as well as Port Harcourt, and Onitsha, Lagos, Kano and Abuja.

He lamented that the heightened insecurity in several parts of the country has limited MTN’s ability to carry out routine maintenance and emergency repairs.

Goodluck also recalled several incidents of multiple taxation and over regulation, citing as examples the difficulties encountered by MTN in Abia State last year and last week’s face off between NESREA and NCC over jurisdiction to intervene in specific regulatory issues, leading to the closure of a number of MTN sites in Abuja. In each case, as with numerous such incidents all over the country, MTN’s ability to service its customers has been severely impaired.

In a passionate appeal for understanding, Goodluck solicited the co-operation and support of the NCC to assist the industry to overcome the various challenges that he listed. Goodluck added that” no business thrives when its customers complain. It is not in our interest for them to do so. It is our desire that our customers are happy with us or else we do not have a business”.

Whilst restating MTN’s commitment to improve its services and apologizing to its customers, he noted that the company would invest   more than N158 Billion in 2012 alone in its network infrastructure. “No company has invested more than MTN in network infrastructure since 2001. We have not been shy to invest heavily in our business and we will continue to do so.”

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