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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NCC beefs up task force on quality of service

Determined to raise the quality of service (QoS) in the nation’s telecommunication sector, the regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has beefed up its newly set up Task Force on QoS).

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, made this disclosure while delivering a paper on ‘Telecommunications Business in Nigeria: How Far?’ during an international communications lecture organized by the Nigeria-Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Lagos, at the weekend.

According to him, in the recent restructuring as an institution, NCC has beefed up the newly created monitoring and enforcement unit of the Commission to make it more equipped to monitor and ensure compliance.

”In line with this, we have given more emphasis to the issue of Quality of Service (QoS). We set up a taskforce, finalized on the draft regulation and key performance indicators that will make the operators fully accountable on such issues, and has put our monitoring and enforcement unit ready to tackle this seemingly intractable problem,” he said, stressing that part of the solution to this is the need for massive investment that is still needed to sustain the level of growth.

He also noted that recent flagged-off of the nationwide registration of existing Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards across the network was because NCC considered the exercise as veritable means to checking meaningful growth in the sector.

”We consider this as a very important aspect of managing a structured growth as it will provide the regulator with definite and reliable statistics about the subscribers on the network,” he said.

Juwah explained that the SIM card exercise would enable security agencies to effectively fight crimes associated with the use of mobile phone services and even assist the regulator in the introduction of news services and solutions such as Number Portability.

”It will assist other agencies of government who need very reliable statistics as well as the operators that need to predict the preferences of their diverse customers,” he said.

Juwah also told the audience at the event presided over by the publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Sam Amuka-Pemu, and attended by Swedish ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Per Lindgarde that whether in business or pleasure, communications is always playing a part.

“It will be difficult to find anybody in this hall without one form of communications gadget or another. So, in all its ramifications, we are all involved,” he said.

Telecommunications business in Nigeria, he noted, is an area of primary interest to the Commission, underscoring the fact that the present and future of telecommunication business in Nigeria is so diverse.

He traced the evolution of telecommunications business in Nigeria to the period covering over 100 years, from the colonial era through our political independence in 1960, to the year 2000.

“From 1886 when the first telegraphic submarine cable was laid by the British firm, Cable & Wireless Ltd to independence in 1960, Nigeria had 18,724 fixed telephone lines,” he said.

And between 1960 and year 2000, Juwah pointed out that the active subscriber base had grown to 400,000 fixed lines for the then estimated 120 million of population.

“This long period was characterized by several restrictions to the sector, and particularly by monopolistic approach to telecommunications businesses as was globally dictated then. Although liberalization began to manifest in the early 80s, the 90s, was still not as eventful,” he said.

However, the NCC boss said that the most eventful period was the historical evolution of the Nigerian telecommunications sector between 2000 and 2011.

“The underlining factors that pushed this phase up the ladder of history include a strong desire on the part of a democratic government to liberalize the sector, and the subsequent enthronement of a strong independent regulatory regime sustained by professionals with clear vision and purpose about global trends in telecommunications evolution and its business potentials, and how to translate them for services delivery within our geographical entity,” he said.

He noted that although the deregulation of the sector began in 1993 when the establishment of the Nigerian Communications Commission was prescribed by Decree 75 of 1992, some segments of the market were still restricted to the monopoly incumbent operator until the operator came under the oversight of the telecom regulator in 2001 when it was formally licensed as an operator.

Remmy Nweke:
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