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Consumers kick against hike in data tariff

The National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) on Wednesday said the directive from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for data tariff increase was insensitive.

NATCOMS President, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo said in a statement in Lagos, that the service providers had started notifying their subscribers of the increase in the tariff of data usage effective from Dec. 1.

Ogunbanjo said that the percentage of the increment was not disclosed yet but might be doubled.

”We view the directive as insensitive and callous. Since NCC is an agency of the Federal Government, the purported directive is one more design by the government to cast a more financial burden on the already depressed citizenry.

”The Communications Service Tax Bill, which proposes to impose a monthly Communication Service Tax of nine per cent on all electronic communication services, which include voice calls; SMS; MMS and data usage is still before the National Assembly.

”There has been a lot of hue and cry against the bill by the citizens. The NCC directive is, therefore, nothing but a huge effort aimed at enforcing the obnoxious provisions of the bill through the back door.

”The inimical directive, if implemented has grave and far-reaching consequences as the gains of telecommunication revolution we have made so far will be eroded,” he said.

According to him, the policy desire to attain 30 percent broadband penetration by 2018 will no longer be attainable, with a high prospect of rolling back the current 13 per cent broadband access via mobile.

He said that those businesses that relied on data and internet connectivity to offer their services would go underground; their promoters would return to the labour market, thereby compounding the unemployment situation in the country.

Ogunbanjo said that since the data tariff increment was just a prelude (testing the water) to voice calls tariff increment, telecommunications services would now be limited to the rich.

”And the poor, who constitute about 90 percent of the population, will be denied access. This is a retreat to pre -2001 era.

”Within the current suffocating economic situation in the country where prices of goods and services go up every day and thereby undermining the people standard of living, the directive is just a mirror of an inconsiderate policy maker.

”NCC did not do due-diligence and did not carry out any consultation whatsoever, through any of their consumer’s engagement platforms, like the NCC Telecoms Consumer-Parliament, the NCC Consumer Outreach-Programme and the NCC Consumer Town Hall-Meeting before this insensitive anti-consumer ,” he said.

The NATCOMS President said that MTN and Etisalat had already sent out millions of text messages to its subscribers, informing them of the NCC data increase directive.

According to him, data or internet availability means more youths engagements because they use data to develop applications and build software.

”With what the NCC has done, these young minds, who develop apps will be slowed down and be limited.

”Data/Internet Service is the ‘petrol’ of all electronically driven businesses, which means that the cost of doing business will also increase.

”The directive is ill-advised, illegal and parades all features of economic adversity and should be withdrawn forthwith,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the message sent by Etisalat says ”Dear Valued Customer, Effective Dec. 1, 2016, we will review our data plans & prices in compliance with NCC directive. Dial *200*3# NOW to buy MORE DATA.”

This post was syndicated from The Guardian NigeriaThe Guardian Nigeria. Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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