A Ventures Africa report says NCC (Nigerian Communications Commission) which is the regulatory body for the Nigerian telecom industry has been accused of not following due process in enforcing regulations.
Re report says Etisalat (number 4 by ranking in terms of mobile subscribers in Nigeria) is accusing the regulatory body of approving a 30% “differential in on-net and off-net tariffs for MTN (number 1 by ranking in terms of mobile subscribers in Nigeria) without due process.”
“Etisalat Nigeria is seeking a judicial review by a Federal High court over the tariffs granted MTN by NCC which it contends is a breach of NCC’s regulation. tagged the Determination of Dominance in Selected Communications Markets in Nigeria”. The regulation, which is meant to regulate further overbearing domination of the market by any single player, was issued by NCC on April 25, 2013, following a study it conducted in 2012.”
Apparently, the study found in 2012 that MTN was the dominant operator in the voice market. It also found that MTN maintained a differential of about 300% between its on-net and off-net retail voice tariff. As a result, NCC had directed MTN not to operate any differentials on its on-net and off-net retail voice tariff.
“Etisalat says it is instituting this action because, contrary to this earlier directive by NCC, the regulator has granted MTN further concession to operate yet another 30 percent differential between its on-net and off-net calls, a move that can only further grant the South African telecoms company an overbearing influence over the Nigerian market.
Etisalat’s contention is that this action of the NCC if not reversed by the court is harmful to millions of Nigerian subscribers because it forces them to restrict their calls to subscribers within the MTN network only since calling customers on any other network is charged at much higher rates. Even though MTN is said to have made the promo alluring to unsuspecting subscribers by naming it a “Calling Club”, Etisalat is opposed to this as it considers it injurious to the interest of MTN subscribers who will pay more for calling anyone outside of the MTN network just as non-MTN subscribers pay more for calls to MTN subscribers.”
At the heart of the matter is competition. Etisalat is the number 4 among the major mobile operators. See the ranking by NCC here. The Nigerian telecom industry is said to have over 135 million registered lines with a market value of over $25b.
NCC recently threatened to increase fines for non compliant telecom operators regarding SIM card registration. Prof. Umaru Danbatta was recently appointed to lead the NCC so maybe he’ll look into this and expedite actions where necessary.