Some days ago, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) imposed a fine against four Global System for Mobile Communications operators – MTN, Etisalat, Airtel and Globacom for delivering poor Quality of Services in the months of March and April.
The NCC said the four GSM operators were to pay a cumulative sum of N1.17bn for failing to meet with the minimum standard of quality of service including the key performance indicators.
The regulatory body said MTN and Etisalat were to pay N360m each, Airtel would pay N270m, while Globacom attracted a penalty of N180m. For more on that report, click here.
However, in response to the fines, the four networks released a joint statement recently on the fines imposed against them by the NCC:
A statement on the fines imposed on Airtel, Etisalat, Globacom and MTN by the Nigerian Communications Commission relating to the network quality.
Airtel, Etisalat, Globacom and MTN would like to jointly issue a statement concerning the decision by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to sanction all four operators for failure to meet Quality of Service standards.
We would like to assure customers of all four networks that we are committed to providing high quality of service to our customers. Over the last ten years more than N 1 trillion has been invested in building and enhancing the four mobile networks. In 2012 alone, the four operators will be spending over N 400 billion of further investments in their networks. All four operators are actively competing with each other on quality of service to win the loyalty of existing customers and attract new customers.
We are all equally frustrated and concerned about the failures to meet customer expectations and needs with respect to the quality of service. Nigeria deserves and needs first class telecommunications networks. We thus apologise unreservedly to you, our customers, for those occasions when you have been disappointed or inconvenienced by a lapse or failure to deliver the requisite level of quality of service. We however believe that it is necessary to explain the major challenges we face as operators and ask for your understanding and support.
The main factor affecting quality of service is the absence of a reliable source of power. Every single site is powered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by two diesel Generators and requires regular supply of diesel as well as 24hours security protection. We need to recognise that benchmarking quality of service against countries which are not operating in such an environment is unrealistic.
The second major factor affecting network quality are frequent cuts of fibre networks which link the cell sites. These are frequently malicious in nature. Recently, operators have asked that Telecommunications Infrastructure be declared “Critical National Infrastructure” which would result in enhanced protection for these assets and criminalize the wilful damage of the same.
Another equally worrying development is the recent trend towards indiscriminate closure of sites by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal, State and Local Governments in pursuit of multiple taxation of telecommunications infrastructure.
Finally, the issue of security is a prevalent threat from our operating environment. We have had particularly unfortunate instances where our employees have been physically assaulted and in some instances killed during site maintenance visit, all in a quest to sustain service quality.
We wish to use this medium to call on the NCC, the National Environment Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, the Minister of Communication Technology, the National Assembly and the Office of the National Security Adviser to work in harmony to put in place an environment in which we can continue our substantial investments in pursuit of delivering world class telecommunications networks.
While we continue to make these investments which will also improve service quality, it needs to be pointed out that in the telecommunications industry, such investments do not yield the requisite improvement in service quality until well after 12 months. We are therefore concerned that fines will not bring about the desired service quality improvements or offer a lasting solution but will merely deplete essential resources that would otherwise be deployed for network roll out.
Also, due to capital-intensive nature of our operators, we are concerned that a regime of sanctions will inevitably erode the confidence of financial institutions and critical partners in the industry. We are also concerned that it could create an atmosphere of anxiety and regulatory uncertainty which is unattractive to investment. We are therefore actively engaging with our Regulator to resolve this issue.
Solutions being explored include ensuring a forward-looking quality of service framework, taking into account pertinent environmental factors affecting service delivery and preserving the capacity of the industry to attract the requisite levels of investment in infrastructure to meet stakeholder expectations.
Nigeria deserves and needs world class telecommunications networks. No sector in Nigeria has seen more progress than the telecommunications sector. We ask for the understanding of all stakeholders as we continue to invest and build the networks to the benefit of all Nigerians.
What do you think about the joint statement? Are they right in saying that fines will not bring about the desired service quality improvements or offer a lasting solution? Are their reasons for poor network quality profound? Should they still pay the fines?
Please share your thoughts.