NCC pledges improved service in 2014 [Sun, The (Nigeria)]
(Sun, The (Nigeria) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) BY OLABISI OLALEYE 08094000013, 08111813040
From all indications, subscribers of the various networks in the country may experience much improved Quality of Service(QoS), given the promise made by the Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC) in Bangkok, Thailand, at the just concluded International Telecommunications Union Telecom World 2013. The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah disabused the mind of journalists at the Nigerian Pavilion, saying, "operators always feel the pinch of fines and that alone is an ace for the Commission and one cannot say that we have not achieve much. "Don't think that they pay fines so easily. The last time we sanctioned them, they paid about $2.5m each and they are forced to publish it in their annual reports. For some of them that are listed on the stock exchange in Johannesburg; it affected them more seriously than people think," he said. It would be recalled that in May 10, 2012,NCC imposed a fine of N360m each on MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and Etisalat Nigeria. On the other hand, Airtel Nigeria was required to pay N270m while Globacom was asked to pay a fine of N180m for failing to meet Key Performance Indicators set by the Commission. The key performance indicators on which the operators were measured were Call Set-up Success Rate, Call Completion Rate, Stand-alone Dedicated Controlled Channel Congestion, Hand-over Success Rate and Traffic Channel cvc Congestion. Call Setup Success Rate denotes the fraction of the attempts to make a HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call" \t "_blank" call which result in a HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecommunication_circuit" \t "_blank" connection to the called number. For a number of reasons, all call attempts do not always result in a connection. CSSR therefore measures the success rate against the attempts. On CSSR, NCC had set a minimum target of 98 per cent. However, in the test it carried out, MTN scored 97.07 per cent in March and 96. 42 percent in April. Airtel scored 97.39 percent in March and 97.48 percent April. Etisalat scored 94.38 percent in March and 96.88 percent in April. On the other hand Globacom, scored 98.33 percent and 98.02 per cent. Globacom would have been said to have met the minimal requirement but the regulatory agency said the figures for the company were not reliable because of network upgrade activities. NCC said in its report, "The Glo Quality of Service recorded values for March 2012 and April 2012 do not reflect actual Glo network performance within the periods under review and are therefore not acceptable as they are misleading. "However , the values are displayed for reference and record purposes pending the conclusion of ongoing QoS data integrity investigation of Glo network." Prior to the media briefing in Bangkok, the Secretary General of ITU, Dr. Hamadun Toure, had praised Nigeria for posting the highest growth in subscriber base among the telecommunications markets in the world for five consecutive years, but the dent of poor quality of service did not fail to resurface abroad. Said he: "For the past 15 years, that I have been associated with ITU, I have also been associated with Nigeria's Ministry of information and Communication Technology and I have seen considerable and impressive growth in its telecoms industry. Nigeria has launched a major tender to the ITU to ensure full transparency to the world and ITU has been present. Nigeria has always been the winner, while losers complain about the astonishing growth. "Nigeria was ranked number one in mobile growth five times by the ITU. The fastest growing mobile market in the world. It is not by chance that Nigeria was ranked again the fifth time but she earned it owing to her diligence and consistency in her drive her economy through mobile penetration". Juwah maintained that subscribers would enjoy better service delivery next year, especially with the tightening of the key Performance Indicat or (KPI), saying, "more fines were coming for operators that overload their capacity and thereby degrade their networks. "Some of them may have decided that because of their own plan, they will continue to increase their subscriber base. By this they are ready to pay fine that they incur from quality of service infraction. They will also be making investment until the investment will catch up with the needed capacity. "Come January we will tighten the KPIs that we have now according to the agreement we have with them. Any one that has decided to continue loading their network without minding the quality of service will continue to pay heavy penalties. Those that have decided to restrict their subscriber base to their capacity will not pay. It is a business decision that rest squarely on operators, " he said. HYPERLINK "http://www.plumvoice.com/taxonomy/term/181" \t "_blank" Call Completion Rate denotes the total number of successfully completed inbound or HYPERLINK "http://www.plumvoice.com/taxonomy/term/108" \t "_blank" outbound calls versus the total number of calls that were placed or received. On this parametre, NCC set a minimum of 96 per cent. MTN scored 95.78 percent in March and 95.20 in April; Airtel scored 96.56 in March and 96.59 percent in April while Etisalat scored 93.05 percent in March and 95.81 percent in April. Call Drop Rate(CDR) refers to the fraction of the HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call" \t "_blank" calls which were cut off before any of the speaking parties terminated the call. On this, NCC set a maximum of two per cent and disclosed that the lower the percentage of dropped calls the better. On CDR, MTN scored 1.33 per cent and 1.41 per cent in March and April respectively. Airtel recorded 0.86 per cent and 0.92 per cent in March and April respectively while Etisalat recorded 0.86 per cent and 1.22 per cent in March and April respectively. The imposition of the fine on the mobile operators for failing to meet with the KPIs had caused a significant stir in the industry. Although, operators had raised issues about environmental challenges that had made it difficult for them to meet with the KPI standard, the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers(NATCOMS) among others have been advancing reasons that subscribers should be credited with the proceeds of the fine. Meanwhile, mobile operators under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Operators of Nigeria(ALTON) had considered going to court in order to stop the regulatory agency because the fear of operators was that the fine could become a regular feature should they fail to meet the prescribed standard which they claim are too high given the environmental inhibitions. Returning home, the position was buttressed at a joint press conference addressed by the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson; Director-General, Consumer Protection Council, Mrs. Dupe Atoki; and Juwah. The CPC boss reiterated that the capacity of consumer council to make orders in the interest and protection of consumers. "While the NCC can impose fines on an offending operator, the CPC can, in addition, commit such recalcitrant offender to jail term for contravening any consumer protection enactment. "Under the Consumer Protection Council Act, the CPC has the power to sanction, prosecute and compel any product or service provider to answer a lawful inquiry, disobedience of which is criminalised." Johnson lamented that in spite of the fact that her ministry had been working hard to provide an enabling environment for the deployment of ICT infrastructure poor quality of service had remained a recurring decimal in the industry. "We are concerned that the poor quality issues still abound. I am inundated with complaints about quality of service and the seemingly uncaring attitude of our telecoms operators to resolve these issues on a regular basis. We will continue, through the industry regulator, to apply sanctions when operators fail to meet the required standards in terms of service quality breaches. "However, consumers cannot continue to bear the burden of poor service delivery. Though we are mindful that the operators are facing issues in deploying or maintaining infrastructure, we believe that the operators can do better in delivering acceptable quality of service, which they are clearly not doing now." The Minister also emphasised the efforts being made by government and its agencies to address the challenges of operators should result in better quality of service. "At a meeting behind closed doors with Governor Babatunde Fashola, the ministry facilitated a landmark agreement to remove constraints to the installation, rollout and deployment of base stations and fibre optic cables in the state. "The Lagos State Government at the meeting agreed to reduce taxes and levies by over 40 per cent and Right of Way fee was reduced from N3, 000 to N500, a reduction of over 85 per cent." From operators' perspective, poor quality of service impedes the capacity to make money, according to them, environmental challenges often beyond their control affect the services they offer. They listed these challenges as inadequate grid power, multiple regulation and taxation; illegal access denials and site shut-outs; lack of incentives to drive service penetration to remote and rural areas; rent seeking charges for permits and approvals necessary for deployment; and insecurity.
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