NIGERIA TELEPHONING CULTURE AND THE SHADOW CAST

When the Global System of Telecommunication<GSM>,telephoning was allowed to come into operation,a  few people numbered among the first to get connected carried on with varied public mannerism.The people who could afford the GSM handsets and the mobile lines then were seen as rich people because it was expensive per time to own a mobile line.

These people and the majority of others that got connected exhibited what is commonly reerred to an GSM madness. While some shouted so loud making or taking calls,others, unknowingly, walked into moving vehicles while on the phone.The nature of ring tunes;so loud,were  also manifest enormous public neasance.

 As the number of users increased, a very disturbing trend become noticeable.This is the problem of poor receptions  making it difficult to rely on one operator’s service.This means that an average user is compelled to carry at least two phones with seperate lines. So, multiply handsets were acquired by users, thinking that it would reduce the difficulty associated in telephoning without dropping of calls. 

 But these problems have not stalled the growth in the number of subcribers base of users. This is because GSM networks have sprend services across the country which has changed the telephony attitude of Nigerians.

At least the telecommunications,<GSM> sector has come to be reckoned as the fastest growing telecommunication industry in the world today.This is pushing the fixed network to an obscure angle.It now gasping for survival.The fixed lines network have been in used for a long time ,performing similar tasks as those performed by its mobile lines because of the successes in most of its protocols. 

The access to telephone services<GSM> by the majority of the people is a reverse of the picture created in the nineties when the present senate president, Senator David Mark, while he was still a serving military officers told Nigerians that telephone was not for the ordinary citizen. Then it was seen to be for the highly placed in the society; a status symbol of a sort.

But the situation has changed tremendously with the telephone now a dominant means for an increasing number of people to communicate with each other.Experts attribute this growth to the mobile nature of Nigerians which increases the demand for mobile services. 

 The pick point of pain experienced by Nigerians is the daily loss of money to poor quality of service characterised by dropped calls and undelivered SMS. Operators still deduct money for services not rendered.

The Nigeria Communication Commission, NCC, worried by this extortionist tendencies, has in January 2008,directed the operators to compensate the subscribers for these lapses. The expected defraulded sum amount to N4.7 billion.

The operators had at several times failed to meet the NCC specified Key Performance Ind-icators average for network quality of service on the national average.While NCC said Glo mobile telecommunications passed the performance indicators test,MTN and Celtel did not. 

The two GSM operators are to pay N175 to each of its active subscribers as at end of January 2008.The amount will be paid to subscribers in form of credit.But the directive is yet to be adhere to a month after  the directive was given.

A breakdown of the figures determined by the NCC shows that MTN needs to compensate subscribers 15,873,000 x N175 =N2,777,775,000, while Celtel owed subscribers 11,098,500 x N175 = 1,942,237,500, bringing the total to N4,720,012,500. The operators, however, kicked against the decision by the NCC and took it to a Federal High Court in Lagos to challenge the determination but lost the case.

Thess are indicators  that it is time for the operators to have a rethink and instal a reliable refund mechanism to subscribers for services not rendered.Already subscribers want NCC to be more forceful to make the operators comply. 

Since complaints of poor service delivery by subscribers was raised all over the nation, the regulatory body for the telecoms sector had come under fire with some stakeholders blaming the commission for being inactive and not wielding the big stick to call the operators to order.


But the NCC said it had made moves at curtailing the excesses of the operators but with no avail as regards restoring normalcy to the QOS.The NCC in a bid to ensure that operators keep up the QOS made a number of moves that has pitched it against the operators.

The first move was NCC’s recent order stopping promotions by the operators until they expand their capacity to carry the additional subscribers that the promo’s will attract to their networks.


The NCC also fined one of the operators N5,000,000 for not meeting the quality of service parameters set by the commission.The direction by the NCC to operators to pay subscribers on their networks between N50 to N175 every month for as long as poor quality service delivery persists will cost operators between four and six billion naira. 


The NCC has also promised the operators further sanctions if more than five per cent localised congestion is experienced on their networks.When the operators commence refunds to subscribers, Nigerians who had expressed frustration on the poor quality of service will be glad of the opportunity to at least get something back for all the monies they’ve lost to the Quality control Service.

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