March 16, 2023

91st TCP: NCC, industry players identify causes of data depletion

By Emmanuel Elebeke

Stakeholders in the telecom industry on Thursday identified major causes of abnormal consumer data depletion.

The stakeholders spoke at the 91st Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC) Telecom Consumer Parliament(TCP) convened by the Commission to address incessant complaints of telecom consumers whose data is abnormally depleted.

Speaking at the event, the Acting Secretary of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, Mr. Gbolahan Awonuga blamed the abnormal data depletion on technical and non-technical factors, noting that the upgrade from lower to higher networks by subscribers also contribute to higher data usage.

According Awonuga, sending and receiving mails, downloading and uploading large files, videos and pictures as well as documents contribute to higher data depletion.
He further listed browsing on internet, use of different social media platforms on regular basis, gaming, allowing background apps
to run unckecked as well as watching online videos.

Other speakers who spoke on the topic aligned with Awonuga and urged consumers to be conscious of their data usage and avoid soliciting for unnecessary services.

In his address, the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, explained that the meeting was convened “to deliberate on the issue of data depletion, which has become one of the most prevalent complaints received from the telecom consumers in the wake of their recent migration to 4G/LTE technology.”

The EVC, who was represented by Director, Licensing and Authorisation in NCC, Mohammed Chubado Babajika, said telecom consumers have been experiencing depletion of their data either as a result of data usage or consumption, and are constantly informing the Commission of their experience through our various complaints channels.

He said: “It is within the context of the subscription and usage of the internet that consumers are experiencing what they refer to as abnormal depletion of their data, which gives rise to the reason we are here today.”

The NCC boss stated that Nigeria is moving with the rest of the world towards 5G technology following the issuance of 3.5GHz spectrum licenses to MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, MAFAB Communications Limited and Airtel Networks Limited.

“It is pertinent to know that whereas 4G offers better download speeds, higher bandwidth and voice quality than 3G technology, 5G technology provides the additional benefits of ultra-high speed data, low latency and higher bandwidth over 4G technology.

“It is therefore important that we completely appreciate and understand the issues surrounding data depletion, its usage and consumption in the era of 4G technology before we fully commence 5G usage.

“The interests of the telecom consumer is of paramount importance to us and as the telecom regulator, we have the responsibility of ensuring that the consumer’s voice is heard, and that the relevant authorities address their complaints.

“It is against this backdrop that the Commission invited the key industry players today to dialogue on the theme “Data Depletion: Discussions on Various Perspectives” to understand the various perspectives to this prevalent issue, identify the possible causes, and brainstorm on the way forward,” he said.

Danbatta further explained that the Commission has an obligation to the telecom consumers as well as telecom industry or operators, adding that it is a symbiotic relationship in which one party cannot survive without the other.

“The consumers are the basis for the operators’ business; if their interests are ignored, the operators’ investments would collapse, and there would be no industry for the Commission to regulate.

“It is thus expedient that we utilise opportunities presented by the Commission’s high-level outreach events such as this Parliament to genuinely exchange ideas on how to reduce the challenges militating against effective service provision to the barest minimum,” he explained.

In his own remarks,
Head, Consumer Affairs Bureau(CAB), Mr. Ayanbanji Ojo, said the CAB is mandated by the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 to protect, inform and educate telecom consumers, noting that in line with this mandate that the Telecom Consumer Parliament was designed as a forum for the active exchange of ideas on how to mitigate salient issues affecting the consumers of telecom services in the country.

Ojo explained that at the beginning of the TCP, it was a quarterly engagement that included so many invited consumers, adding that however, it has been redesigned to twice a year and limited to the telecoms regulator and service providers, the consumer advocacy groups, and other critical stakeholders.

The theme of this year’s edition of the TCP is, “Data Depletion: Discussions on Various Perspectives.”