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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Telcos false night browsing offer

NOWADAYS that most telecommunications companies have joined the fray of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country, a lot seem to be passing under the bridge unnoticed.

This includes the purported night browsing being offered by some of these companies.

Our investigations showed that some of the telcos turned ISPs are just using this medium to swindle Nigerians who are desirous of having Internet access, especially at home, since the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) cautioned ISPs and cyber café operators to stop activities they cannot monitor at their places of business.

This also became prevalent given the growing number of home Internet users in the country, which gave rise to the number of people who now subscribe to these ISPs for night browsing, basically because that is the time they would be at home.

A case in point has been the MTS FirstWireless night browsing which leaves less to be desired as on daily basis, those night browsers especially those who subscriber for evening till midnight lose an average of two hours either trying to connect, waiting to be connected or precisely cannot connect because, according to sources at MTS, “there is likelihood that we have many subscribers at this area.”

But even it the reality is the increasing number of subscribers’ concentration in a given area, experts argued that nothing stops these companies or service providers from improving on their infrastructural capacity focusing on that area.

This, industry observers said would enable customers to really have value for the money they paid for such services as night browsing.

Also investigation revealed that at times, this service disruption last into the early hours of the morning for those who subscribed for evening till morning, that is, 6pm to 6am.

The annoying aspect according industry observers is that most of these night browsing offers are pre-paid, which means the consumer must have paid for them to have the service or access as it were, unlike on the post-paid platform, which entails that users pay only for what they have actually used and billed.

Therefore, it is necessary that relevant consumer organisations such as the Consumer Protection Agency of the Federal Government should wake up to its responsibility, including a good number of telecommunications-based non-governmental organisations.

Equally the Consumer Affairs Bureau of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), should not relax, but must be seen to be very vibrant.

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