Nigerians can now heave a sigh of relief as authorities of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have suspended plans to increase data tariff on all telecommunication networks with effect from tomorrow, December 1st.
According to a statement by the telecomms regulatory body, the suspension is to allow for further consultation by all stakeholders.
There had been a public outrage since the commission announced plans to direct telecommunication networks to increase their data tariffs.
“Following the concerns that visited the directive to introduce price floor for data segment of the telecommunications sector beginning from December 1, 2016, the Nigerian Communications Commission has suspended any further action in that direction,” the commission said in a statement by its Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo.
“The decision to suspend this directive was taken after due consultation with industry stakeholders and the general complaints by consumers across the country.
“The Commission has weighed all of this and consequently asked all operators to maintain the status quo until the conclusion of study to determine retail prices for broadband and data services in Nigeria.”
Noting that there had been a price floor of N3.11k/MB in 2014 which was removed in 2015, it said the proposed price floor to take place on December 1, 2016 was 90k/MB.
It added: “In taking that decision, the smaller operators were exempted from the new price regime, by virtue of their small market share. The decision on the price floor was taken in order to protect the consumers who are at the receiving end and save the smaller operators from predatory services that are likely to suffocate them and push them into extinction.
“The price floor is not an increase in price but a regulatory safeguard put in place by the telecommunications regulator to check anti-competitive practices by dominant operators.”
The NCC’s directive, which was communicated to GSM subscribers by some operators this week, had sparked outrage with many Nigerians calling for the decision to be reversed.
While the NCC said that the directive was not a price hike and that it was not fixing prices for operators, a text message sent to subscribers by one of the operators, indicated that the new rates fixed by the NCC required an increment in tariff.
The message read, “Dear customer, please be informed that from 1st Dec, some MTN data tariffs will be increased to reflect the new rates set by the NCC to operators. Thank you.”
Hours before the NCC released its statement to this effect, the Senate had asked it to suspend the planned data price hike.