Thursday, December 06, 2012
NCC Report and Consumer Promo Ban
Shortly before it imposed an indefinite ban on all GSM operators from running consumer promotions and lotteries on their networks, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had just conducted yet another quality of service check on the operators. This is in line with its mandate which empowers the regulatory agency to ensure that the licensees meet required standards from time-to-time.
What is however of concern to perceptive industry watchers is that the outcome of the survey did not seem to have influenced the decision of the agency in deciding on a blanket ban on promotions and lotteries which affected all operators, irrespective of their performance as discovered by NCC itself.
Known as the Nationwide Benchmark Drive Test, it was conducted by NCC and covered July to September, 2012 for the four major operators, namely MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat. The first of its kind, the test captured the Call Completion Rate, which encompasses the major network KPI (call drop and congestion). Service providers were ranked in Lagos and the six geo-political zones of southwest, southeast, south south, north central, northeast and northwest.
In the north central zone which produced the highest rating for all the operators, except Glo, Etisalat recorded 94 per cent, while Airtel followed closely with 92 per cent. MTN scored 84 per cent and Glo had 78 per cent.
Next is Lagos where Etisalat had 92 per cent, Airtel 88 per cent, Glo 86 per cent and MTN ended up with 82 per cent. In the northwest, it was Etisalat 90 per cent with Airtel 82 per cent, Glo 88 per cent and MTN 60 per cent.
Airtel led in the south south recording 88 per cent. The rest were: Etisalat 86 per cent, MTN 71 per cent and Glo 78 per cent. Airtel also led in the southwest with 88 per cent, followed by Etisalat which had 81per cent, while Glo scored 79 per cent and MTN 72 per cent.
Airted also led the way in the northeast with 78 per cent followed by Etisalat at 67 per cent, while MTN had 58 percent and Glo 53 per cent. The southeast produced the poorest result. Etisalat led with 85 per cent followed by Airtel at 75 percent. Glo recorded nearly 60 per cent, while MTN scored 53 per cent.
Overall, Etisalat was rated as the best service provider in Lagos, southeast, north central and Northwest. It came second in the southwest, south south and northeast. Airtel was the best operator in three regions – southwest, south south and northeast. It came second in Lagos, southeast, north central and northwest. MTN finished third in south south, north central and northeast; and fourth in the other zones – Lagos, southwest, southeast and northwest – where Glo came third, while Glo finished last where MTN was rated third.
From such a quality of service check, analysts had thought NCC would apply its own prescription in dealing with the subscribers’ headache. Rather, the agency chose to come down hard on all the operators. The indefinite ban on all promotions and lotteries by network operators has continued to generate divergent opinions.
Not a few subscribers believe that NCC should have taken the pains to sanction only those networks that have demonstrated lack of capacity to handle the increased traffic on the platforms as a result of the consumer promotions.
Mr Wale Thomas, a marketing communications consultant, said that the regulatory agency behaves like most establishments in Nigeria that would always look for the easy way out of any challenge. “Why would NCC institute a check on the network and refuse to implement the result of its own findings in dealing with culprits?”, he wondered. “The agency should have imposed the ban on networks that have failed to meet minimal standards rather than sweep all of them along.”
In the opinion of Mr Moses Akapo, another consumer who operates a mobile phone dealership at the Computer Village in Ikeja, Lagos, the NCC should encourage the spirit of competition among the network operators, which would ultimately be to the benefits of the consumer. “If one or two network operators are found wanting and the NCC choose to impose the same penalty on all the licensees, it would be encouraging mediocrity rather than promoting meritocracy,” he said.
In a recent interaction with journalists, the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), pointed out that issue of network congestion cannot be blamed on consumer promotions and lotteries essentially. According to Mr Gbenga Adebayo, ALTON president, the major causes of poor service quality across networks could be attributed to natural and man-made disasters. He explained that the natural disaster of flooding in some southern parts of the country and the spontaneous attacks on telecoms facilities in some northern parts of the country by gunmen had contributed largely to service disruption.
“The impacts of the attacks had since limited the ability of millions of Nigerian subscribers to access telecommunications services, because the incidents affected over 250 telecoms sites that lost connection and many suffered significant damage beyond repairs,” Adebayo said.
He further said that the unprecedented flood in some parts of the country destroyed Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) along its path, leading to significant service disruption in the affected areas, with consequential impact on service availability in some other parts that were not affected by the flood. “Other than disruption to services, our members have lost equipment worth several billions of naira to the flood disaster across the country, as over additional 300 BTS sites were affected by the flood,” Adebayo said.
Announcing the ban on consumer promotions and lotteries on the networks on November 8, NCC said it would be in force “until such a time as may be determined by the commission.” It said that the affected telecoms operators included Globacom Limited, MTN, Intercellular Nigeria Plc, Visafone Communications Limited, Etisalat, Airtel and Multilinks Telecoms Limited.
*Moses Adigun, a Lagos-based consumer rights activist contributed this article.
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