May 15, 2012

Etisalat, MTN react to NCC’s N1.17bn penalty

By Prince Osuagwu
AGOS — Some of the telecoms operators who were at the weekend penalised by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, over poor quality of service have reacted to the decision, describing it as shocking and surprising.

The operators said poor quality of service was not only attributable to network capacity but also by other factors beyond their control. They appealed that the NCC should show understanding of the critical industry-wide challenges by pushing for the telecommunications industry to be declared critical national infrastructure rather than rooting for penalties.

It’s shocking—Etisalat

For instance, Etisalat CEO, Mr Steve Evans, while reacting to the development, said it was shocking to his company to receive the news of the penalty, particularly when the same NCC had in the past three years of Etisalat operations in Nigeria, recognised it as the number one quality operator by the various measures conducted and published by the regulator.

He however noted that “the failure to hit some of the quality measures could not be attributed alone to capacity expansion but also by other factors which represent industry-wide challenges. Foremost among these is the absence of reliable power which necessitates that everyone of over 3000 cell sites needs to be served by two generators which run 24 hours a day and need regular maintenance and provision of weekly supplies of diesel.

…MTN too

Meanwhile, immediately after the penalty was announced, MTN Nigeria had reacted, outlining part of the problems that culminated into the mess in quality of telecom services, adding that it was still committed to ensuring the best quality of service for its teeming customers.

The company’s Corporate Services Executive, Mr Akinwale Goodluck, said inadequate power supply, lack of adequate security leading to indiscriminate vandalisation of its facilities and multiple regulation and taxation were also responsible for the weak service quality provided by the operators within the time under review.

According to Goodluck, MTN generates up to 80 per cent of its power requirements, expending billions of Naira annually on diesel alone.

He said: “MTN suffers more than 70 cuts to its fibre on a monthly basis. Indeed, in April this year, MTN had cause to publish full page announcements in the newspapers, alerting the public to the growing incidence of criminal damage to MTN’s infrastructure in various parts of the country and the impact on quality of service in the country, particularly the South East, as well as Port Harcourt, and Onitsha, Lagos, Kano and Abuja.

“Moreover, the heightened insecurity in several parts of the country also limited MTN’s ability to carry out routine maintenance and emergency repairs” he added.