Wednesday, October 17, 2007

QoS: Subscribers decry court order on compensation

Telecommunications subscribers, especially on the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) platform in the country have decried the recent court order on the proposed compensation plan by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The compensation due to have commenced last week was stopped by court order following an injunction granted two GSM operators, MTN Nigeria and Celtel Nigeria through a Federal High Court presided over by Judge D.D. Abutu.

Champion Infotel recalls that mid last month, NCC had given notice of its intention to issue directive to prevail on GSM operators in the country including Glo, is to compensate subscribers on their networks following an increased rate of poor Quality of Service (QoS) across these networks.

The directive would mandate the operators to compensate the over 38 million GSM subscribers in the country, depending however, on the category of traffic parameters experienced.

A letter to this effect addressed to the GSM operators and dated September 19 and 20 respectively, signed by the commission’s secretary, Mr. Felix Odeoye, stated that NCC has been inundated with complaints from subscribers on the issue of poor and unacceptable level of quality of services across the telcos.

Obviously responding to the notice, the two out of the three GSM operators took NCC to court on October 2, to restrain the proposed directive supposed to have taken effect as from October 6, 2007.

Presiding on the matter over the weekend, Judge D.D. Abutu of the Federal High Court Ikoyi-Lagos, ordered the suspension of the notice pending the hearing and determination of the motion on Notice dated 2nd October, 2007, “from carrying into effect the direction intended by the notice of intention dated the 19th day of September 2007.”

A certified true copy of the proceeding endorsed by the Chief registrar, Federal High Court Ikoyi-Lagos, Mr. F.E. Dokubo, was made available to Champion Infotel.

Noteworthy is that NCC letter, required the telcos to pay compensation to the subscribers on their networks on monthly basis as long as the quality of service lasted.

According to NCC, there would be N50 per subscriber monthly compensation where there was 2 to 5 per cent traffic channel congestion and 5 to 10 per cent would attract N100 per subscriber per month and congestion level over 10 per cent, equally would attract compensation of N175 per subscriber.

The commission, also said, that it may consider further sanctions if the congestion above this threshold is found to persist for extended period of time without being corrected to the satisfaction of the regulator.

This compensation, NCC emphasised, is expected to take effect from October 1, 2007 and must be paid before October 7, but subsequently in the event of the telcos not being able to meet the Quality of Service (QoS), NCC may invoke more sanctions.

The current direction, the commission said, is in accordance with the provision of Section 53 of the Nigerian Communications Act of 2003.

The two GSM operators had sought plea that an order of interim injunction restraining the respondents from carrying into effect the directions intended by the Notice of Intention dated the 19th day of September 2007 pending the determination of the motion on notice.

Also, an order of interim injunction restraining the respondents from introducing, applying and or enforcing the traffic channel congestion parameters against the applicants pending the determination of the motion on the notice.

The suit No: FHC/L/CS/909/07 was filed on October 2, this year.

Reacting to the court order, most subscribers alleged insensitivity of the telcos to their plights, especially Celtel and MTN who eventually took NCC to court.

A Lagos-based businessman, Mr. Levi Ugbaja said the action of the operators was not surprising as they have continued to make huge profits in spite of poor services, which they render to the consumers.

While commending the NCC for taking a serious action to protect the subscribers, he said the telcos action depicts that they do not have subscribers at heart.

“We can now see clearly that these operators are only interested in our money and not the services for which we are paying the money”, he said.

Equally speaking, bank executive, Mr. Kunle Adegoroye, told correspondent that it appeared the telcos were happy with the current trend of poor quality of services while misleading the public that they are working towards resolving the matter.

“For how long do they want us to wait before enjoying the services which we have paid for? It is obvious that they are going to court to continue the massive exploitation of the subscribers and they will never win,” he said.

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