The Nigerian Communication Commission has suspended plans to increase the price of data as from December 1.
The decision to suspend the move was taken after due consultation with industry stakeholders and the general complaints by consumers across the country, Tony Ojobo, NCC’s director of public affairs said in a statement.
An increase in the cost of data services from MTN, Airtel, Etisalat Globacom and other fringe service providers by as much as 100 percent will cut off a large chunk of youths and other low-income adults from the social media and undermine Nigeria’s two-year plan for 30-per cent increase in broadband penetration.
It could also worsen the country’s security challenges, according to Mr. Deolu Ogunbanjo, President of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), the umbrella body for telecoms service users, who together with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) rejected the plan.
NCC, however, insisted there was no plan to increase the price of data but to put in place a regulatory safeguard to check “anti-competitive practices by dominant operators”. According to Ojobo, the decision to effect a new price regime was primarily to promote a level playing field for all operators in the industry, encourage small operators and new entrants.
“The price floor in 2014 was N3.11k/MB but was removed in 2015. The price floor that was supposed to flag off on December 1, 2016 was N0.90k/MB,” Ojobo said.
“In taking that decision, the smaller operators were exempted from the new price regime, by virtue of their small market share. The decision on the price floor was taken in order to protect the consumers who are at the receiving end and save the smaller operators from predatory services that are likely to suffocate them and push them into extinction.”
He further stated that the NCC does not fix prices as some operators claimed. Before the new suspended price floor of N0.90k/MB, the industry average for dominant operators including MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, EMTS Limited (Etisalat) and Airtel Nigeria Limited was N0.53k/MB. Etisalat offered N0.94k/MB, Airtel N0.52k/MB, MTN N0.45k/MB) and Globacom N0.21k/MB.Smile Communications charges N0.84k/MB while Spectranet and NTEL charge N0.58k/MB and N0.72k/MB respectively.