During an interview in Lagos, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta admitted that the expectations of telecoms subscribers were high and that they wanted NCC to look into the area of fast data depletion.
Danbatta then assured Nigerians that the commission will continue to work towards the reduction in cost of data and also pledged to achieve the target of N390/Gigabyte cost of data by the years 2025, as enshrined in the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025).
He stated that, “NCC is already working hard to address their concerns. We did our benchmarking recently and we discovered that the cost of 1 Gigabyte of data has come down below N500, which represents 50 per cent reduction from what it used to be.
“There is however a target to reduce data cost to N390/Gigabyte by the year 2025 and we are almost there. The target, as enshrined in the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) is to achieve N390/Gigabyte in the cost of data by the end of 2025, but the recent benchmarking that the NCC did, showed that the cost of data has reduced to more than 50 per cent from what it used to be at the beginning of 2020.
“For us as industry regulator, this is a good sign that data cost is coming down and that the issue data depletion as experienced by subscribers, is gradually been addressed.”
Danbatta however, explained that although the reduction in the cost of data may not completely address the issue of fast data depletion as currently being experienced by subscribers, the NCC was considering a new measure that would completely address the issue of data depletion.
According to him, “NCC has instituted a forensic audit on the cost of data, just like we did with cost of Short Message Service (SMS) on a particular mobile operator, where we discovered that the operator unlawfully surcharged its subscribers to the tune of over N100 million and we have asked the particular operator to make refunds immediately and the operator has commenced refund to the affected subscribers. This could have gone unnoticed, if not for the quick intervention of NCC. We have plans to even extend the forensic audit on SMS to other telecoms operators.
“So, like we did for SMS, we are doing same for data to find out the reason for fast data depletion and it will be carried out across all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). By the time the audit is completed and the result is out, perhaps we will have better information of what is happening in the data segment, as it relates to fast data depletion.”
Danbatta revealed that government is looking at additional deployment of fibre optic cables in the next four years, in addition to what is currently on ground.
While affirming that NCC is desirous that telecoms services are pervasive and accessible to all Nigerians, irrespective of their location, even in remote and isolated communities he stated further that NCC would continue to deploy infrastructure, especially broadband infrastructure in order to solve the challenges of congestion on the networks as well as ensure the right speed of accessing telecoms services.
“Speed in accessing the internet is very important, hence the National Broadband Plan recommended two digits target of 25mb/sec for urban areas and 10mb/sec for rural areas of the country.
“Another area of target as recommended by the National Broadband Plan, that will enhance quality of service, is the broadband penetration, and it recommended a target of 70 per cent penetration by 2025, but there is a recent presidential order that we should attain 60 per cent broadband penetration by 2023,” Danbatta said.