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Nigeria @60: ATCIS demands Data Free Day, insists on Pay-as-you-view for cable TV

The Association of Telephone Cable TV and Internet Subscriber (ATCIS), a leading subscribers advocacy group in Nigeria, has charged the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to order all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to grant subscribers voice and data-free day on the Independence Day (October 1) in Nigeria, as a way of appreciating the subscribers, who are the major stakeholders of the telecoms industry.

It stated that the offer should be made on very Independence Day in the country.

The body also insisted that the cable television services providers should implement pay-as-you-watch, calling on the concerned agencies including NCC, FCCPC and NBC to put an end to the impunity by the pay-TV operators.

National President of the group, Prince Sina Bilesanmi, who spoke at a meeting with NCC in Abuja, said the subscribers deserved the offer and more, considering their contributions to the growth telecoms sector.

He requested for integration of ATCIS into the consumer-centric programmes of the commission.

He in informed that the group would a rally on October 19, 2020 against NBC, FCCPC and Cable TV operators for not implementing Pay-as-you-go, increase in the price of DStv, Gotv, Startimes subscriptions as well as failure to obey federal government order to reverse to old price before June 2020.

Bilesanmi said this is the right time for President Muhammed Buhari’s administration to fire those agencies that are not ready to work with him to promote the standard and right of subscribers.

He also urged concerned ministries and National Assembly to support ATCIS the vision and agitation of the group “which is the main voice for the protection of interests and rights of over 190.8 million Telephone, 30 million Cable TV and 123 million Internet Subscribers people it represents.”

“We are ready to work with NCC in the promotion of the rights, interests and welfare of the ever growing telecoms subscribers with over 190.8 million subscriber members across six geo political zones in Nigeria.

“We believe that working together will also bring the regulator closer to its core stakeholders (consumers) and make demands occasionally on behalf of the subscribers/consumers. We believe this is a quicker way of getting to the regulator and to bridge the communication gap and promote co-operation,” Bilesanmi said.

He also appealed to NCC to try to reduce tariffs of data and voice services, and to ensure affordable and reliable internet service for subscribers, urging the Commission to ensure there is no automatic fix charge and non-charges for drop calls.

Responding, Hafsat Lawal, Deputy Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, who led the NCC’s team, said though the demands brought forward by ATCIS to the Commission were multidimensional, it was ready to collaborate with any stakeholder that offers suggestions that may move the industry forward.

She stressed that industry collaboration is part of the Commission’s 8-Point Agenda.

“We are all stakeholders and subscribers in the industry. Despite some challenges, we are always working with the operators to improve the quality of service.”

Lawal also stressed that the issue of quality of service (QoS) is a function of many factors which include environmental. She said it is doubtful if “any operator will deliberately wish its consumers experience poor network or drop calls on its network because those issues will affect the revenue of the operator.”

The challenges, according to her, have to do with vandalization of of telecom infrastructure and closure of base stations by communities where telecom installations such as base stations and fibre optic cables are sited or laid respectively.

She promised that NCC would look into the 15 per cent being charged by telecommunication operators on borrowed airtime with the possibility of reducing it.

According to her, “no charges for drop calls, no authentic rollover and 5 per cent instead of the 15 percent to be charged on borrowed airtime from the operators. You are also demanding free calls on October 1 by all service providers to subscribers. You also want the commission to engage with your association in terms of sponsorship.”

Speaking further she said the commission is working on poor quality of service, stating that fibre cuts from road construction or theft, stealing of telecoms’ facilities, and insecurity that deprives repairs or maintenance of telecoms’ facilities are some of the factors that contribute to poor quality of service.

Lawal therefore said the demands by the group would be tabled before management for deliberation and implementation.

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