It made the declaration in Abuja during an interactive session on Quality of Service delivery, which it had with operators.
The NCC said it had also initiated measures to address the situation as well as ameliorate the recurrent inaccessibility to foreign exchange by operators.
Sequel to this, the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, told the operators that the commission had written to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and he was favourably disposed to addressing the forex needs of the operators.
Danbatta said that as a follow-up to the letter, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management, NCC, Mr. Sunday Dare, had a meeting with Emefiele and extracted a commitment from him on how he hoped to address the forex needs of the operators.
The commission’s executive vice chairman said that the regulatory body had declared 2017 as the year of the consumer, saying that all hands should be on deck for telecoms consumers to have a new lease of life in the Quality of Service.
“The consumer has to be treated with dignity,” Danbatta said, adding, “The eight-point agenda drives this point home.”
The NCC, he explained, had put measures in place to check and monitor the Quality of Service by various networks.
He said, “We have sent this report to our task force on the QoS and have been interacting with government at different levels as part of measures to deal with the poor QoS.”
Danbatta admonished the operators and co-location service operators to provide suggestions on how to address the situation.
Earlier, The NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Mr. Ubale Maska, said the QoS had been a ‘great’ concern as consumers inundated the commission with complaints.
“It requires everybody’s input if the situation has to be redressed, hence 2017 has been declared the year of the consumer,” he said.
The NCC Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Dr. Fidelis Ona, explained that the commission was aware of some of the challenges, which comprised the right of way, force majeure, difficulty in acquiring new cell sites, multiple taxation and regulation, vandalism, power supply, among others.
“We are engaging stakeholders, including the Industry Working Group on Quality of Service, and the Special Committee on Counter Harmonisation to address this,” he added.
The NCC’s Head, Quality of Service Unit, Edoyemi Ogoh, in his presentation, traced poor quality of service to fibre cuts, community issues, among others.
He said in October 2016, operators experienced 175 cuts across the nation, while they recorded 180 cuts in November and 103 in December 2016.
“There were 113 community issues in October 2016; 74 in November; and 133 in December,” adding that fibre cuts and community issues remained major drawbacks for the QoS.
In their various presentations, some of the operators painted a grim picture of their encounters, especially in an economy that was going broke.
The Chief Technical Officer at MTN Nigeria, Mr. Hassan Jamil, expressed happiness about the interactive session, saying, “The regulator can know our situation, on one-on-one basis.”
He added that the demand for both voice and data services was on the rise, “but we are unable to catch up on investment because of scarce forex availability.”
Before now, Danbatta had stated that the commission was committed to tackling the poor quality of service among telecommunications companies.
He stated this while speaking to a global audience as a panelist at a ministerial programme of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
He said, “We have the capacity within the commission to measure key performance indicators for all operators and the entire length and breadth of the country, and we are able to say with certainty where these indicators are not being met with the standards set by the NCC.
“We have identified the operators that are not meeting with these standards and we have told them that they must meet up with the standards because we are concerned that unless there is improvement in quality of service, Nigerians will not be able to enjoy services that they desire.”
The NCC executive vice chairman said it was for this reason that the commission was set to begin a campaign, tagged, ‘2017: Year of the Telecom Consumer in Nigeria’, to bring out another provision in the eight-point agenda, which is to protect and empower the consumer.
The panel discussions were moderated by the Partner, Communications Chambers, Brian Williamson; Jolier Zoiller of the United States Department of State; and the Secretary of Communications in Argentina, Hector Huici.
Danbatta also highlighted the progress made thus under his administration, saying that broadband penetration had grown from less than 10 per cent to 21 per cent; while broadband Internet penetration moved from 20 per cent to 40 per cent.
He said that with the figures, the target of 30 per cent growth in broadband by 2018 was no longer a tall order.
His audience comprised the Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, and fellow ministers, regulators, vendors, service providers and experts from different countries of the world.