The NCC, Telecom Operators, and Poor Services in Nigeria, By Chukwuemerie Uduchukwu

Chukwuemerie Uduchukwu
Chukwuemerie Uduchukwu

It is a widely known fact that life in the world today has been made easier through Information Communications Technology, popularly referred to as ICT.

ICT has made every business in the world so easy that many now describe the world as a global village. Before the invention of ICT, it was a very frustrating and difficult task to pass information to a nearby state or community. During that period, messages took months and even years to be delivered to another country or continent.  But today,  information are to anywhere and to anyone around the world within seconds, thus making the entire globe a village.

In August 2001, during the regime of Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigerians rejoiced when his admnistration launched the Global System of Mobile Communication (GSM) with the hope that it would finally initiate the country into the global village. Though the major objectives of GSM had been partially achieved in Nigeria, there are some major challenges to the developement of quality ICT in Nigeria and these challenges can be seen in the services rendered by the major network service providers, namely MTN, Airtel, Etisalat and Globacom to their numerous subscribers.

Most times, using the services of these network providers are frustrating due to the high rate of drop calls, poor network coverage, frustrating Internet services, unjustifiable charges and lack of qualified customer care agents.

One can seldom complete a minute call without any bad signal interference. Also, these network providers seem to only focus attention on cities and major towns leaving remote areas with poor and even lack of network. Also, in spite of the fact that Internet plays a key role in globalisation, none of the service providers in Nigeria can boast of adequate and reliable Internet connection in all the villages and cities in the country. Etisalat was the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) to introduce 3.75G service that was supported by a High Speed Packet Acess (HSPA+) in some major cities around the country. According to Etisalat, the HSPA+ was meant to enable its suscribers to surf the Internet at a super-speed rate. Later, Airtel Nigeria launched 3.75G service but unlike that of Etisalat, it has coverage all over the 36 states of Nigeria and FCT.

This wide super-speed Internet service of Airtel has generated some goodwill for the company and as reported by PREMIUM TIMES, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Wednesday, April 17, 2013 said Airtel Nigeria Limited met all targets in Key Performance Indicator (KPI) measurements carried out last December on all telecommunication network operators in the country. This is great news but the company should put more effort in extending its coverage to remote areas because many villages are yet to enjoy full Internet coverage of the network.

Moreover, other major network operators like Globacom and MTN should put more efforts in expanding their coverage. Globacom, the only network owned by a Nigerian is trying at its capacity but more efforts are needed. Many won’t be suprised if I say MTN is the worst telecom operator in terms of service delivery. No wonder the Nigerian Communications Commission recently fined the company for failing to meet the required standard. Despite the fact that MTN seems to have the largest number of subscribers, the company has failed to improve its services. Rather, it has continued to bombard its customers with unimaginable promos like ‘Win an Aeroplane’ among others.

Apart from these major telecom operators, other CDMA companies like Starcomms and Visaphone also operate in Nigeria but their services are mainly focused on the cities and this is not encouraging to ICT development.

Recently, the NCC announced that it would soon launch a Mobile Number Portability service that will enable subscribers to switch over to another network without loosing their mobile number. This is a welcome development but the process of number mobility should be simplified because if it can’t be done within 30minutes, then it is nothing but a joke. Also the NCC should endeavor to make provision for portability via online platform and over the air because most of this Mobile Telecom Operators offices are located in the cities.

The NCC should also put in more efforts to supervice the quality of services rendered by all telecom operators in the country by developing a 24/7 online customer support centre.

Finally, the NCC should develop a policy that will oblige all telecom operators to render uninterrupted quality Internet service in all schools within the country because if all the schools are connected to Internet service, learning and research will be made easier. The various telecom operators should also ensure that their customer care agents are well enlightened and qualified. These will strengthen Nigeria’s membership of the global village.