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Thursday, May 31, 2012

QoS fine rises to N1.77bn: NCC says no payment, no dialogue


… As meeting ended in deadlock
The four-sanctioned operators of Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications in Nigeria to the tune of N1.17billion over poor quality of service (QoS), have been told to pay the fine first before the regulator could grant them any audience.

This is coming as latest development, shows that the fine has further accumulated N60 million as at the time of filing this report for the failure of operators to meet the May 25 deadline for payment of initial fine.

ITRealmsOnline recalls that on May 11, 2012, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) penalised the four major GSM operators with a fine of N1.17 billion for failure to keep to the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) test set out by the telecom regulator for the months of March and April 2012.

The details of the penalties hitherto communicated to these operators showed that MTN Nigeria Communications and Etisalat would pay the sum of N360,000,000m each, while Airtel is to pay the sum of N270,000,000m; followed by Globacom with the sum of N180,000,000m.

All the operators are to pay the penalties on or before May 25, 2012 or be liable to payment of additional N2,500,000, per day for as long as the contravention persists.

As at the time of filing this report, it was not clear any of the operators made payment into NCC’s account, thereby amounting to six days since the expiration of the duration for payment, which calculation is N15,000,000m per operator and totaling N60m as at Thursday.

Although, ITRealmsOnline gathered that operator’s efforts to get NCC shift grounds in a meeting Wednesday ended in a deadlock, with Commission insisting the fine must be paid first before any further audience could be granted them on any issue.

Speaking to newsmen after the meeting between NCC and foursome operators, at the Commission headquarters in Abuja, Director, Public Affairs of NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, who was present at the session unambiguously declared that the Commission would not give audience to any meeting with the operators until the aforementioned fines are cleared off the table.

“We will not discuss further actions or entertain any further meeting on this matter until sanctions are complied with,” he asserted.

Ojobo who was accompanied by Head, Media and Public Relations, Mr. Reuben Muoka and Mr. Okoh Aihe; who is the Special Adviser to the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) at NCC explained that initially NCC was firm not to have any discussion with the service providers until the penalties are paid but on a second thought the management felt that there was need to listen to the service providers to see if there were going to be any new issues to be raised in regard to the issue of sanction.

He also said that the meeting attracted all the Chief Executive Officer (CEO’s) of the affected GSM operators, eventually, the operators did not come to the table with new points or challenges.

They mentioned the issues of power, cable cuts and multiple-taxation and all of that. These challenges are not new to the Commission,” he said, but lamented that they have been repetitive on the issue of Quality of Service, which has been in discussion for six years until January 2012, when the QoS guidelines were gazette.

This, Ojobo said empowers NCC to apply sanctions to the service providers that could not meet the KPIs as indicated in the guidelines.

As at March, he said, “we still didn’t see any noticeable improvement rather we observed very, very, poor Quality of service on all the networks.”

He emphasised that the aftermath of meeting service providers who requested the Commission to review its position on latest sanctions was that there was no need to review the sanctions in the sense that these key performance indicators have not been met and because our Quality of Service guidelines have specified that there will be penalties where these KPI are not been met and therefore the Commission is not going to change its position and indeed the CEO of NCC said, there would not be any further discussions until the penalties are paid.

According to him, as matter of fact the meeting was to give the benefit of the doubt to service providers to see if there are going to be any new issues that could come up or indicate to NCC the plans they have for the improvement on the Quality of Service, but at the end, “the position of NCC still stands and the sanctions and penalties will have to be paid.”

Ojobo pointed out that since the penalty has entered the default period from the May 26, “counting from that date to anytime payment is made; it is 2.5 million per day.”

He emphasised that NCC has to make a distinction between compensation and fine, stressing that a sanction is a fine and fines are paid to government and compensation is paid to subscribers.

“What the guideline specified is fine and that fine is paid to government through the Commission. The issue of compensation has to do with specific infractions on consumers for which the consumers have made representation to the service providers,” he submitted.

Remmy Nweke

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