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Thursday, April 03, 2008

NATCOMS applauds judiciary over compensation

A non-governmental organisation (NGO) with objective centred on rights of telecommunications consumers in the country, the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) has applauded the nation’s Judiciary over the judgment passed recently that erring telecom operators, mainly MTN and Celtel must pay compensation to their subscribers.

Champion Infotel recalls that a Federal High Court in Lagos, penultimate Thursday ruled that the two Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operators, MTN Nigeria and Celtel Nigeria must pay N175 compensation to their subscribers each over poor quality of service experienced as at January 31, 2008.

Equally, the regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had last September 19 and 20 given notice of intention to issue directives prevailing on three GSM operators namely Glo Mobile, MTN and Celtel, to reimburse subscribers for offering below the average quality of service based on Key Performance Indicator (KPI). Two out of the three went to court to stop the proposed plan.

The court presided over by Judge D.D. Abutu had stopped NCC from implementing the directive initially slated to commence on October 6, 2007, pending the determination of the suit, which was laid to rest on two weeks ago.

The court held that the Plaintiffs/Applicants had not shown special circumstances to award the relief being sought and therefore, dismissed the motion.

Reacting to the judgment, NATCOMS Executive Council at the end of a session on Tuesday, last week in Lagos, upheld the position of the Court describing it as satisfactory.

NATCOMS in a five-point communiqué made available to newsmen and endorsed by its National President, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, noted with satisfaction the court ruling recently, asking MTN and Celtel to compensate subscribers on their networks for non-compliance of quality standards as set up by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

“We appreciate the Nigerian Judiciary for this land-mark Judgment in support of consumerism in Nigeria. The Judiciary, through this judgment has brought hope to the Nigerian consumer and succour to the helpless who have been paying for poor quality service,” a part of the communiqué read.

The group also called on NCC to ensure that the deadline given to the operators to complete implementation of the compensation is adhered to in line with the court judgment.

NATCOMS equally queried NCC for exclusion of the third Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operators as contained in the earlier notice to issue directive. “We also noted with utmost dissatisfaction and dismay the non-inclusion of the Glo network in the compensation deal for Glo subscribers by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC),” the group said.

NATCOMS therefore requested to know the reason behind the exclusion of Glo Mobile.

“Why is the Glo mobile network not included in the compensation deal for subscribers on Glo? Is the NCC saying that Glo has been giving subscribers on its network good quality service since they started in 2003? Is Glo mobile a perfect network that has complied with international best practices?” the group queried.

NATCOMS sought to know the benchmark for Glo mobile between 2006 and 2007 with regard to NCC’s Key Performance Indicator (KPI).

In addition, NATCOMS appreciated telecomms operating companies making the cost of acquiring new mobile phones as cheap as N2,000, N3,000 and N4,000.

“We say thanks to Visafone, Starcomms, Reltel, Multilinks and Celtel,” the group declared.

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