Nigeria issues regulatory framework for National Roaming
To ensure seamless Communications among Mobile Service Providers, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has released a guideline on National Roaming between Roaming Providers and Roaming Seekers within a predetermined framework to remove uncertainty.
The National Roaming Guideline provides mobile service providers a regulatory framework for the implementation of National Roaming services in Nigeria.
In exercise of the powers conferred upon it by Section 70 of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 and other enabling powers in that regard, the Commission said the guidelines are intended to give effect to the provisions of licences which permit the licensees to enter into agreements for the purpose of providing National Roaming services in Nigeria, subject to the prior approval of the Commission.
NCC, Executive Vice Chairman, Professor Umar Danbatta explained that these Guidelines shall apply only to holders of licences validly issued by the Commission, containing a condition that makes the holder eligible to enter into a national roaming service agreement. National Roaming services shall be provided within the geographical boundaries of Nigeria.
It says the guidelines are to be read in conjunction with the Act, the Collocation Guidelines, Interconnection Regulations, Quality of Service Regulations, Competition Practices Regulations, other subsidiary legislations that may be issued by the Commission from time to time, and relevant Licence Conditions.
Why National Roaming?
Just as international traveler roams through to a visited network, the National roaming will enable a mobile subscriber perhaps using MTN to automatically make and receives voice calls, send and receive data or access other services during national travel outside his network coverage area, by means of connecting through a visited network possibly a Glo or Airtel network.
As part of the procedure for National Roaming the guideline emphasised that, duly authorised Service Providers shall request and negotiate National Roaming Agreements with each other on bi-lateral and non-discriminatory terms.
It also noted that a Roaming Seeker requesting for National Roaming services shall forward a duly completed Roaming Request Form A contained under Schedule 1 of these Guidelines to the Roaming Provider.
The commission warned that Visited Network shall make every effort to make sure that the Roamer enjoys the same level of availability as its own customers and maintain such level as contained under the Quality of Service Regulations developed by the Commission.
About Roaming Charges
The guideline entails that Subject to prior approval of the Commission, each operator shall set its Roaming tariff, having due regards to the fact that the calling party pays. The tariff shall take into consideration the need to ensure Roamers enjoy seamless connectivity at a reasonable cost.
However, the Commission may set a price cap for Roaming charges based on industry data until a detailed cost study is carried out. “The Visited Network shall not offer any incentive such as free data, free or lower tariff calls to the Roamer.
“Each operator shall seek and obtain prior written approval of the Commission before setting Roaming charges for its subscribers.
“In determining the retail roaming charge for voice calls, the current interconnect charges shall serve as the bottom line (base).
“In determining the Roaming charge for data services, parties shall mutually agree on tariff sharing, taking into consideration the Home Roaming principle,” the commission said.