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NCC Halts Data Price Increase

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The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has announced that it has suspended the new minimum pricing template for data services by mobile operators, following a directive by the Nigerian Senate on Wednesday.

The new rate, which would have led to price increase in data for some Nigerians, was scheduled to take effect from Thursday, December 1.

According to the commission, the suspension of the planned data tariff increase is to allow for further consultation with relevant stakeholders.

The NCC had directed that the floor plan for data should be 0.90k/MB effective December 1, 2016 “pending the finalization of the study on the determination of cost-based pricing for retail broadband and data services in Nigeria”.

Virtually all the big operators in the data market were hitherto charging below the new floor rate, meaning that the price for data subscription would automatically increase.

Smaller internet service providers and newcomers in the market, such as Spectranet, Ntel and Smile, are still allowed to charge below 0.90k/MB.

However, during the senate plenary on Wednesday, deputy senate leader, Bala N’Allah, raised a motion, condemning the planned data tariff hike and called on the lawmakers to put a stop to it.

Senate President Bukola Saraki criticized the NCC for not doing enough consultation before initiating the policy.

Saraki directed the senate’s committee on communication to investigate the matter as well as other allegations of non-compliance to regulations against mobile operators.

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After NCC issued the directive, major telecommunication networks in Nigeria sent out messages to their customers, notifying them of the new data price regime.

The message from Nigeria’s biggest telecoms company, MTN, read: “Dear customer, please be informed that from December 1, some MTN data tariffs will be increased to reflect the new rates set by the NCC to operators.”

Etisalat in its own message said: “Dear valued customer, effective 1st Dec 2016, we will review our data plans and prices in compliance with NCC Directive.”

The minister of communication, Adebayo Shittu, was quoted as saying on Wednesday that he was not aware of the planned data tariff increased.

A radio station, Raypower FM quotted the minister as saying: “I heard of the Data tariff increase like every other Nigerian; I’m not party to It.”

The planned tariff hike has been roundly condemned by majority of Nigerians who described it as further worsening the hardship being experienced across the country due to the ongoing economic recession.

On Tuesday, the Trade Union Congress TUC, condemned the planned data price increase, saying it was an act of insensitivity on the part of government.

President of the TUC, Bobboi Kaigama in a statement made available to journalists in Lagos said: “We feel worried about the move because data is one of the cheapest ways to empower the teaming youth.

“This move if allowed will make it unaffordable. This is insensitive on the part of the parties involved.”

“What then will be the benefit of the policy to the self-employed who depend on data for their businesses?” he asked.

“Cheap internet data is a vehicle to economic development. It is very unfortunate and inhuman to come up with such idea at a period of recession.”

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