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NCC begins forensic audit of telcos over data depletion

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By Lucas Ajanaku

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has started probing data depletion in the telecoms industry in line with its mandate of consumer protection.

Its Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,  Prof Garba Dambatta ,who spoke on the sidelines of the presentation of ZIK Prize for Leadership Award to him, said reduction in the cost of data might not provide the lasting solution to the issue of data depletion, promising that the Commission would explore new measures that would address the issue.

“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,” Dambatta said.

He said the Commission did its benchmarking recently and discovered that the cost of 1 Gigabyte of data had come down below N500, which represents 50 per cent reduction from what it used to be.

He said there was, however, a target to reduce data cost to N390 per Gigabyte by the year 2025, adding that Commission is 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 of data depletion as experienced by subscribers, is gradually been addressed.

“Although the reduction in the cost of data may not completely address the issue of fast data depletion as being experienced by subscribers, but that NCC is considering a new measure that will completely address the issue of data depletion,” Dambatta said.

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