Sometime in November 2017, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) announced that Nigeria was one of the countries that offered the cheapest voice services across all networks in Africa. Very recently, the organisation has moved to also make data services available and affordable for every Nigerian.
It’s a known fact that telecom operators like MTN and Etisalat offer data services at very exorbitant prices; yet, they manage to dominate the data market because they offer a better internet service compared to their competitors in the market. Even though all telecom operators have succeeded in offering a unity tariff to other networks when making voice services, the cost of data services differ between network operators and this could be attributed to the unavailability of broadband infrastructure.
At the stakeholders’ forum that took place in Lagos, Prof. Danbatta, the Executive Vice-Chairman of the NCC said that the best way to facilitate competitive price level is by providing a platform to address dominance issues such that that there is a level playing ground for all operators and consumers. However, this would include ensuring broadband availability and affordability which has been an issue for the government for a couple of years now. Without this in place, it could be difficult for the NCC to regulate data pricing and check price discrimination. He said:
“While the commission is happy with the phenomenal growth recorded in the industry, especially in active voice subscriptions, we believe that the next critical phase is to ensure that everyone – wherever they live and whatever their circumstances has access to the benefits of broadband and this can only happen with the pervasive deployment of broadband infrastructure and services across the country, considering the potential of broadband as a key enabler of national productivity, economic growth and development and development, social inclusion and cultural enrichment.”
He said further that KPMG has been saddled with the responsibility to carry out the survey which would reveal the appropriate pricing regulatory measures and techniques to be adopted across all network operators. The result of the survey will not only determine the pricing structure to ensure a healthy competition in the data market; it will also ensure data services availability and affordability to every Nigerian.
Mr. Segun Showande, a KPMG representative gave a breakdown of how the organisation hopes to carry out the survey. He addressed the situation, explaining the methodology which would be adopted to develop the pricing structure. The bottom-up methodology which will be implemented is generally used by telcos and regulators. With this approach, it would be easy to factor price trends, staffing, capital among other factors that would determine the pricing structure so that some of the network operators are not disadvantaged.
Beyond a shadow of the doubt, this model, if successful will stimulate economic growth across the country, especially for the entrepreneurs who depend largely on quality data services. You can’t imagine the catalytic role of broadband services in business development.