Telcos condemn undue incursions into NCC

…….want FG to address pricing challenges

Telecom operators in Nigeria on Thursday urged the Federal Government to facilitate a constructive dialogue with industry stakeholders to address pricing challenges.

The appeal was made in a joint statement by the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).

The statement was signed by Mr Gbenga Adebayo, the ALTON Chairman and Mr Tony Emoekpere, the ATCON President.

The two associations (ALTON and ATCON) represent Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and telecommunication companies respectively.

The telecom operators urged government to establish a framework that balanced consumers’ affordability with operators’ financial viability.

They said: “For a fully liberalised and deregulated sector, the current price control mechanism, which is not aligned with economic realities, threatens the industry’s sustainability and can erode investors’ confidence.

“Despite the adverse economic headwinds, the telecommunications industry remains the only industry yet to review its general service pricing framework upward in the last 11 years, primarily due to regulatory constraints.

“Government needs to facilitate a constructive dialogue with industry stakeholders to address pricing challenges and establish a framework that balances consumers’ affordability with operators’ financial viability.”

The operators urged the government further to take decisive action in addressing the numerous challenges confronting the telecommunications industry.

Speaking on regulatory independence, the associations advocated for the sustenance of a culture of independence in the regulatory landscape.

According to them, it will safeguard undue influence and unwholesome incursion into the Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC) domain.

They added that this would inspire trust in the telecom sector and encourage investment.

“Regulatory neutrality and independence are crucial to ensuring a thriving telecommunications sector.

“Statutory provisions lend credence to this notion, as a lack of an impartial regulator will lead to a failure to maintain public confidence in the objectivity and independence of its decisions,” they said.

According to them, there is urgent need for collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors to overcome obstacles hindering the sector’s growth and development.

The associations said that their members still lacked access to essential telecommunication services due to a myriad of challenges.

They noted that the challenges included multiple taxation, regulations, prohibitive Right of Way (RoW) charges, inadequate electric power supply and vandalism of telecommunications infrastructure.

The associations also advocated for legislations that designated telecommunications infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI).

In their statement, the two associations expressed deep concern over the escalating security threats facing telecommunications infrastructure in Nigeria.

“Telecom infrastructure undisputedly plays a pivotal role in Nigeria’s national security and socioeconomic growth, especially as the country currently contends with multiple security challenges that require urgent and immediate actions in response to these threats.

“Attacks on cell towers, fibre optic cables, and other critical assets disrupt telecommunications services and result in significant financial losses for operators.

“We urge the government to prioritise the security of telecommunications infrastructure and collaborate with law enforcement agencies to enhance protection measures and combat vandalism and sabotage effectively.

“The industry also requires substantial investments in network expansion, maintenance, and technology upgrades,” they said.

In conclusion, the associations reaffirmed telcos’ commitment to working collaboratively with the government to address the challenges facing the telecommunications industry in Nigeria.

They noted that by fostering conducive regulatory environment, prioritising infrastructure development, enhancing security measures, the government could unlock the full potential of Nigeria’s telecommunications sector. (NAN)

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