By Dayo Williams, Abuja.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has suspended its proposed price hike in data tariff by telecommunications service providers, initially billed to start from December 1, 2016, following nationwide outrage against the hike by consumers. In a press statement signed and released by the commission’s director of public affairs, Mr Tony Ojobo, NCC said it suspended the directive on data segment price floor following the concerns that visited the directive, saying ‘’the decision to suspend this directive was taken after due consultation with industry stakeholders and the general complaints by consumers across the country.’’
He said the commission weighed all the concerns and resentment raised against it and consequently asked all operators to maintain the status quo until the conclusion of study to determine retail prices for broadband and data services in the country. It will be recalled that the NCC had written to the Mobile Network Operators on November 1, 2016, on the determination of an interim price floor for data services after the stakeholders’ consultative meeting of October 19, 2016.
At the consultative meeting, it was agreed by the stakeholders that the decision to have a price floor was primarily to promote a level playing field for all operators in the industry and to encourage small operators and new entrants in the telecommunications industry.
The statement reads, ‘’ the price floor is not an increase in price but a regulatory safeguard put in place by the telecommunications regulator to check anti-competitive practices by dominant operators. This statement clarifies the insinuation in some quarters that the regulator has fixed prices for data service’’, saying ‘’this is not true because the NCC does not fix prices but provides regulatory guidelines to protect the consumers, deepen investments and safeguard the industry from imminent collapse.’’
The statement further said that the NCC as a responsive agency of government takes into consideration the feelings of the consumers and so decided to suspend the new price floor. Before the suspension by the commission, Nigerians had taken to their various social media platforms to protest the proposed price hike, saying it was satanic and insensitive to increase data tariff at a time when the Nigerian economy is struggling to stay afloat.