Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Senate to strengthen NCC on regulation

The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has identified areas it could strengthen the telecommunications regulator in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) so as to efficiently perform its duties.

Senate Committee chairman on Communications, Senator Sylvester Ndubuisi Anyanwu, gave this indication at the end of the one-day public hearing on Quality of Service in Abuja, while interacting with newsmen.

He said that his committee has advanced plans to introduce new laws into the regulation of the sector that would tackle complaints against poor telecommunications services by various operators.

This, he said would be achieved by strengthening the powers of the telecom regulator to facilitate the application of stiff sanctions against any defecting operator.

As said by him, part of the proposed laws would be to make it mandatory for operators to refund subscribers on established cases of call drops and call terminations or in any clearly established situations of poor service delivery.

Senator Anyanwu added that at the Senate, they are of the opinion that Nigeria telecom subscribers are not getting the best from telcos.

“Some level of responsibility on the part of operators could lessen the problem and provide subscribers with the minimum service quality expected anywhere. We’re working to ensure that refunds are made to subscribers as is the case in many other countries,” he asserted.

Members of the National Assembly and especially the Senate, he said, are mindful of the uncommon challenges facing the sector including inadequate power supply and insecurity of telecom facilities at some locations.

He warned that these challenges should not be used as an excuse to “rampantly and consistently deliver low service quality resulting into loss of money for subscribers which tantamount to extortion since subscribers are forced to part with money for services not rendered.”

On NCC, he identified lack of sufficient empowerment by law to enforce its own regulation, adding that his committee recently held the first Telecom Stakeholders meeting in Abuja, and warned that some deceitful actions of operators could undermine the effectiveness of the regulator at securing the interest of all stakeholders in the sector particularly subscribers.

Already, he said, the committee is taking second look at the existing laws with a view to reviewing and advising the assembly on the creation of entire new laws to accommodate the dynamics of the industry.

“We are looking seriously at the law that created the NCC. At the time the law that created NCC was made, it may be adequate but a lot of changes have occurred and change is constant. Now we are working at new laws to accommodate the growth of the telecom industry,” he said.

The committee, he equally said would examine laws that would accommodate some of the lapses currently witnessed such as encouraging the growth of fixed lines through tax holiday and duty waivers among other incentives.

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