Telecoms Regulation

Nigeria: Regulator To Audit Telcos Over Data Depletion

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has begun a process probing data depletion in the telecoms industry in line with its mandate of consumer protection; this is according the NCC executive vice-chairman, Prof Garba Danbatta.

Danbatta, who was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the presentation of ZIK Prize for Leadership Award to him, said a reduction in the cost of data might not provide the lasting solution to the issue of data depletion, promising that the commission would explore new measures that would address the issue.

"NCC has instituted a forensic audit on the cost of data, just like we did with the cost of Short Message Service (SMS) on a particular mobile operator, where we discovered that the operator unlawfully surcharged its subscribers to the tune of over N100 million and we have asked the specific operator to make refunds immediately, and the operator has commenced refund to the affected subscribers. This could have gone unnoticed, if not for the quick intervention of NCC. We have plans to even extend the forensic audit on SMS to other telecoms operators."

"So, like we did for SMS, we are doing the same for data to find out the reason for fast data depletion and it will be carried out across all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). By the time the audit is completed, and the result is out, perhaps we will have better information of what is happening in the data segment, as it relates to fast data depletion," Danbatta said.

Danbatta continued to say that the commission did an evaluation recently and learnt that the cost of 1 Gigabyte of data had come down below N500, representing 50 per cent reduction from what it used to be.

The commission has set out to reduce data cost to N390 per Gigabyte by 2025, and it is convinced that it is almost there. The target, as enshrined in the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025), is to achieve N390/Gigabyte in the cost of data by the end of 2025, but the recent benchmarking that the NCC did, showed that the price of data has reduced to more than 50 per cent from what it used to be at the beginning of 2020.

Danbatta said for them as industry regulators; this was a good sign that data cost is coming down. "Although the reduction in the cost of data may not completely address the issue of fast data depletion as being experienced by subscribers, that NCC is considering a new measure that will completely address the issue of data depletion," he said.

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