The Senate, on Wednesday, instructed the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to immediately stop the planned increment of data tarrifs for mobile phone users.
The Upper Legislative Chamber has also resolved to commence a comprehensive investigation into allegations of some failures in the operation of the service providers.
It has directed its Committee on Communications to invite the NCC leadership, service providers and other relevant stakeholders in the telecommunications sector and report back within one week.
The position of the Senate, followed a motion of urgent national importance moved by the Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Na’Allah (APC, Kebbi South). Na’Allah condemned the planned data tariff hike, saying it would cause serious hardship on ordinary Nigerians.
Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West), in his contribution to debate on the matter, declared the policy as not only ‘unholy’, but also ‘unfriendly’.
“We are up to the task. And I can assure the Senate that we will swing into action immediately. We will invite all the necessary agencies that are involved in this policy that is unholy and unfriendly and get back to the Senate unfailingly on Tuesday,” he said.
Speaking on the motion, Senate President Bukola Saraki, lampooned NCC for not doing enough consultation before initiating the policy. He also asked the committee to investigate allegations of non-compliance to regulations against mobile operators.
The NCC had directed mobile operators to initiate a new data tariff regime from December 1, 2016. In a letter to mobile operators dated November 1, the NCC stated that the interim floor price for data services was 0.90k/MB for big operators, and that “this rate will subsist pending the finalisation of the study on the determination of cost based pricing for retail broadband and data services in Nigeria.
“In order to provide a level playing field for all operators in the industry, small operators and new entrants to acquire market share and operate profitably small operators and new entrants are hereby exempted for the price floor for data services,” it said.
NCC’s letter further read: “For the avoidance of doubt a small operator is one that has less than 7.5 percent market share and a new entrant is an operator that has operated less than three years in the market.
“All operators are to ensure that subscribers are not automatically migrated to pay-as-you-go platform. Also, note that effective date for the interim price floor is December 1, 2016.”
By Ehisuan Odia…
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