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Nigeria: GSM Users May Pay More Soon

Started by Muhsin, March 17, 2009, 02:45:29 PM

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Nigeria: GSM Users May Pay More Soon
Hamisu Muhammad and Zakariyya Adaramola
17 March 2009

Lagos — If the review of the interconnect rates in the telecommunication sector favour the operators, the GSM users in Nigeria may pay more for making calls.

Interconnect rates are the rates which service providers pay to each other for terminating calls on their fixed or mobile networks.

The telecoms regulator- Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday announced the commencement of the review process with the appointment of Detecon International and PriceWaterHouseCoopers, as consultants and advisors to the Commission for the exercise.

NCC, in a statement signed by Acting Head Public Affairs Mr. Reuben Muoka said the two consulting firms are to conduct cost study as well as international benchmarking studies as a follow up to the one conducted in Nigeria in 2006 which led to the enactment of the existing fixed and mobile termination rates in the country.

It said the consultants would be having sessions with the operating companies during the months of March and April 2009 while their reports are expected to be submitted to the Commission before end of April, 2009.

The Commission said that with the growth of the nation's subscriber base, and changes experienced in the operating environment, it has become necessary to review the interconnect rates so as to be in tune with current realities.

Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe said "We are happy that the two well respected international firms are involved in the study and we expect the operating companies to give the consultants full cooperation".

The NCC move to review the interconnect rates may be a prelude to the much awaited telecoms tariffs increase which the operators have been clamouring for since December last year.

A source in one the GSM company, who pleaded for anonymity told our correspondent in Lagos that if the interconnect rates are reviewed upward, the operators would not have any option than to jerk up call rates in the country as from May after the two firms might have finished their work.

It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Communication, Prof. Dora Akunyili had said the time is not now for the telecoms operators to increase their call rates.

Meanwhile, MTN, Nigeria's leading telecommunications company has reaffirmed its commitment to playing a role in driving socio- economic growth and development in Nigeria.

According to Ahmad Farroukh, the company's chief executive officer, "one of our key objectives when we launched our operation in 2001 was to use telecommunications as a platform to unleash Nigeria's strong potential for development".

"In providing telecommunications services to over 25 million active subscribers," he said, "the MTN operation has registered an impact that clearly underscores the wide-ranging economic multiplier nature of investment in telecommunications. The multidimensional impact of our over $5 billion investment in our network rollout includes job creation and the empowerment of thousands of small and medium businesses".

"Today", said Mr Farroukh, "In addition to over 5000 base stations, MTN has put in place a 5,411 kilometre fibre optic transmission backbone, which is the longest private infrastructure of its kind in Africa. The fibre optics 'super highway' is the catalyst for an ICT revolution which will impact the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.'

He also revealed that in recognition of customer demand in the busiest commercial hubs of the country, MTN is also erecting metropolitan 'self healing' fibre rings across major cities like Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Ibadan. The effect of the metropolitan network would be a dramatic improvement in the quality of service and increased robustness of the network in those areas.

Speaking on quality of service, Mr Farroukh said that in 2008 the company achieved an average monthly build rate of 120 base stations, a feat that has remained unsurpassed in Nigeria and indeed the rest of Africa. "We will continuously redouble our efforts to ensure that the growing needs of our country, for quality voice and data services are met in a most satisfactory manner".

MTN had said earlier that it tariff would be determined by the competition in the telecoms sector.

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