GSM subscribers in Nigeria, would pay more for data with effect from December 1.
Although the telecoms companies have not officially made any announcement, a source has confirmed to PUNCH that the order came from the Nigeria Communications Commission.
“The NCC issued the directive late last week on the orders of the Federal Government. We have not announced it yet because most of the major telcos have been meeting the NCC on how to reverse this policy, because it will be too harsh for Nigerians,” a senior management employee of Etisalat Nigeria said.
“However, we further gathered that the Federal Government took the decision having discovered that data rates are very low-priced in Nigeria, compared to other countries, including nearby African countries.
“The government might have also taken the decision given that Nigerian subscribers have been kicking against the proposed nine per cent Communication Tax, whose bill is currently in the National Assembly”, he added.
An MTN employee also revealed: “What this means is that MTN, Airtel, Etisalat And Globacom will increase their data rates as from December 1, 2016. A data plan of N1,000 for 1.5 Gigabytes will now be increased to N3,000 at N1,000 per 500 Megabytes.”
MTN has already sent out an SMS to its subscribers, intimating them about the plan to increase tarriffs.
The text message read: “Dear customer, please be informed that from 1st of December, some MTN data tariffs will be increased to reflect the new rates set by the NCC for operators. Thank you.”
An NCC representative however denied being aware of such plans by the operators and claimed MTN will be queried.
“We are unaware of it. I just asked my bosses; they are unaware. We will forward your query to MTN for appropriate attention,” she said over the telephone.
However, in a letter by the NCC to the operators, the commission stated, “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 from the price floor for data services.”
It added, “For the avoidance of doubt, a small operator is one that has less than 7.5 per cent 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.”