TELECOMMUNICATION companies (telcos) are asking for a 40 per cent increase in the cost of calls, SMS and data due to rising operational costs in the country.
The hike was proposed by the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria, (ALTON) in a letter to the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC).
In the letter titled, ‘Impact of the Economic and Security Issues on the Telecommunications Sector,’ the telcos said the decision to hike charges was based on an increase in energy costs, which has raised their operating expenses by 35 per cent.
Their proposal means the price cap on phone calls will increase from N6.4 to N8.95, while SMS costs will also increase from N4 to N5.61.
Speaking to The ICIR, Special Assistant to the Executive Secretary of ALTON, Gbolahan Awonuga, said the increase in charges was long overdue.
“We depend on diesel as our main energy source to keep our power stations running because we don’t rely on the national grid. And diesel price was moved from N220 per litre to N750 per litre.
“Since 2003, we have not increased our charges and this is nothing we can do except to start retrenching our staff to cut down costs.
“This is why we are appealing to the NCC to re-consider and make amends to the charges to reflect the prevailing realities,” he said.
The telecommunication industry is grappling with the impact of the economic recession in 2020, as well as the ongoing Ukraine/Russia crisis.
The recent introduction of five per cent excise duty on telecom services has also worsened the problem of multiple taxes and levies in the industry.
Parts of ALTON’s letter The letter to the NCC read, “As the Commission may be aware, the power sector under the supervision of its Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission of the power sector in November 2020 undertook a review of electricity tariffs to cater for the economic headwinds reported above.
“In view of the foregoing, ALTON considers it expedient for the telecommunications sector to undergo periodic cost adjustments through the Commission’s intervention in order to minimise the impact of the challenging economic issues faced by our members. Details are hereunder:
“Upward review of the price determination for voice and data and SMS. Given the state of the economy and the circa 40 per cent increase in the cost of doing business, we wish to request an interim administrative review of the mobile (voice) termination rate for voice; administrative data floor price, and cost of SMS as reflected in extant instruments.
“With respect to voice and SMS cost, ALTON respectfully requests the Commission to consider a mark-up approach to address the upward price adjustment desirable for the industry.
“For data services, we wish to request that the Commission implements the recommendations in the August 2020 KPMG report on the determination of cost-based pricing for wholesale and retail broadband service in Nigeria.
“In implementing the said recommendations, however, we recommend that the 40 per cent increase in the cost of doing business be factored in to arrive at a cost price per GB in view of the current economic situation.”
In the annexure one section of the letter, the telcos umbrella body requested an upward adjustment of the Mobile Termination Rate (MTR) by 40 per cent.
It said, “For large operators, new interim MTR of N5.46 from N3.90 reflecting 40 per cent increase in the cost of business.
“For small operators, new interim MTR of N6.58 from N4.70 reflecting 40 per cent increase in the cost of business.”
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.