Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Operators breathe easier as NCC slashes interconnect rates

BY Emma Elebeke
TELECOMMUNICATIONS companies operating in Nigeria will breathe easier forthwith as industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission, has decided to lower interconnect rates among service providers, which it said would deepen competition in the market among the operators.
Further, the regulator revealed that the proposed launch of mobile number portability, MNP earlier billed for this month has been moved forward to April 25 and is also expected to stir up more competition among operators and make them more responsible to subscribers to enable them get value for the money.
According to the Commission, the reduction in interconnect rates from N4.90k to N4.40k was in response to the yearnings of  Nigerian consumers  about the high cost of making calls in the country.

NCC boss, Juwah
NCC’s Director of Public Affairs,  Mr. Tony Ojobo who disclosed this Abuja said the announcement followed a stakeholders  meeting  in which all parties agreed to the reduction in the ICR to further deepen competition in the market and ensure that Nigerian consumers get value for their money.
“This development is a  direct response to the dynamics in the market and we are certain that it will make service providers more responsive to the consumers. Though, we see increase in traffic  because it is a win situation to both consumer and the service providers, we took everything into account before coming up with this reduction in the interconnect rate.
“We believe that mobile number portability will also make operators accountable to consumers as this will make quality of service improve far beyond what it used to be. We also believe that the ICR reduction and MNP regime are going to be an interesting time for all to watch,” he said.
According to NCC, the reduction is targeted at both the small and new entrants as well as the big operators.
Under the new arrangement, new entrants and small operators in the market who have 0-7.5 Percent subscriber base will now pay N5.20k instead of N6.40k they initially pay and  from 2015 the rate drops to N3.90k.
For the big operators, the initial N4.90k they pay will reduce to N4.40k and by 2015, the rate drops to N3.90. All these take effect from April 1st, 2013.
The reduction is expected to reduce the cost of making calls from one network to another and also calls made within a network.
As part of the commission’s effort to instil discipline in the industry, Mr. Ojobo said the commission has fined MTN the sum of N90 million  for failing to meet up with the recently reviewed  Key Performance Index, KPI by the commission.
According to the commission, the telco is expected to pay the fine on or before April 3rd and failure to do so attracts more penalties.
It will be recalled that the commission, as part of its regulatory functions, conducts a test of the Key Performance Index, KPI to ascertain the level of compliance by operators.
Meanwhile, the commission has postponed the official launch of the mobile number portability project  to April 25th from the initial march ending as earlier announced.
The change of date for the MNP launch, according to Ojobo was taken in good faith to enable the contractors complete the test-running process in Awka and Minna respectively and also to fine-tune all the grey areas that could lead to break down of the porting process.
Mobile number portability is a system that will offer mobile telecommunication subscribers   the opportunity to move from one network to another without interference.
 What`s your take on this development?

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