Fines not enough to tackle poor Nigerian telecoms QoS – analysts

Fines not enough to tackle poor Nigerian telecoms QoS – analysts

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) needs to do more than fine operators if it is to tackle the poor quality of service (QoS) in the country, according to analysts at Informa Telecoms & Media.

HumanIPO reported earlier this year operators MTN, Globacom and Airtel reluctantly paid a total of NGN647.5 million (US$4 million) in fines imposed on them by the NCC for poor service quality.

However, Informa analysts Thecla Mbongue and Danson Njue told HumanIPO imposing fines only went so far and efforts were required to tackle the cause of the problems experienced by subscribers with Nigerian telecoms companies.

“Fines happen just a few times a year – less than four times, I’d say. Customers suffer more because poor QoS happens daily,” Mbongue said.

Njue agrees, saying fines form just part of the issue.

“The real deal is to go to the bottom of the cause for poor QoS. This can only be achieved if both parties work closely with one another to address the real cause of the problem,” he said.

Nigerian operators, subscriber groups and the government have been at loggerheads in recent months, with the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) criticising the NCC for offering to support telecoms subscribers planning to drag the networks to court over poor service quality.

ALTON has previously blamed excessive demands by state agencies for poor service quality, and said negative publicity around the Nigerian telecoms sector is bad for the country’s economy.

However, Mbongue said the operators are at least partly to blame for poor QoS.

“They carry on signing up subscribers when they know they might not have enough capacity to serve them during peak hours. They blame poor infrastructure such as constant interruption in electricity supply, and the authorities in charge of power provision should be blamed,” she said.

“However, there are alternative power solutions, such as solar, which operators use but the process of switching to alternative power across all the network is costly and operators do not want to lower their margins.”

Njue said: “Several operators have complained of lack of spectrum as a key reason for poor QoS. Others have cited several other reasons which includes vandalism of network infrastructure and unreliable power supply. Well, it is also common knowledge that some operators have not done enough in terms of optimising their networks for capacity and coverage enhancement.”

He said in his view the regulator needed to both be tough with operators to ensure they meet their obligations under their licence terms, but also create a conducive environment for investment.

“The regulators should be bold enough to free up any unused spectrum and reallocate it those who need it. The regulators should also work very closely with the respective government ministries to propose stringent regulations to curb vandalism of network infrastructure. It is also the responsibility of the respective governments to ensure that there is necessary infrastructure to create a conducive environment for investment.”

For their part, telecoms companies operating in Nigeria have said they will increase their investments in network expansion by 200 per cent this year as a result of regulatory pressure over QoS.

In spite of the controversy surrounding QoS, Pyramid Research said last month the fast pace of growth in the Nigerian telecoms sector and the country’s population of over 170 million people means the country will remain one of the most attractive markets in the Middle East and Africa.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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