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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

New interconnect regime takes off

Remmy Nweke

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has announced new interconnect regime as recently approved by its board with effect from September 22, 2006, with subscribers at heart.

Disclosing this development, Head, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Dave Imoko, informed that telecom operators are expected to adhere strictly with the new interconnect regime which the commission said is ideal.

‘Ideally interconnect rates should be cost based and the new rates were arrived at following months of cost study and consultations with the industry,” he said.

Mr. Imoko said NCC anticipates that the new interconnect rates would translate to substantial reduction in mobile retail tariffs in the country, while the fixed tariffs will experience some increase.

According to him, the result of the industry cost study revealed that the major fixed services operator, the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), which has the largest number of fixed lines in the country, despite that it may have been providing services below cost.

“This was indeed responsible for some of the financial problems that have been associated with NITEL over the years,” he noted.

He said that the commission, after due consideration of the possible fallout of the new interconnect rates, was satisfied that the introduction of the new rates will be to the overall benefit of subscribers and the industry.

“Today, about 95 per cent of telephone users in the country are on mobile lines which implies that only a small percentage use fixed lines, most of which are in offices and in a few homes of high net-worth individuals,” he asserted.

Pointing out that a substantial drop in mobile rates therefore would have the effect of impacting on more subscribers and the bulk of users of telecom services in the country.

Hence, NCC believes it is important that efforts be made to make the mobile call rates continue to drop to enable more Nigerians enjoy the benefits of the growing subscriber base in the country.

This is already happening with recent publications of rate cuts by certain mobile networks. The Commission also believes that the coming weeks will witness tariff adjustments that will be to the overall interest of the subscribers.


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