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Telecom operators record 800% increase in data, voice calls during pandemic – Danbatta

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Executive Vice Chairman and Chief executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has said some telecom operators and platforms reported demand spike, especially in data usage and volume of calls, as high as 800 per cent since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Danbatta, citing an International Telecommunications Union (ITU) report noted, however, that despite the increase in demand for data and voice services, the commission took some critical regulatory actions to mitigate Covid-19 impact on quality of service (QoS) delivery by the networks to telecom consumers.

In a statement signed by the Commissions Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Danbatta enumerated these measures while speaking at the first edition of the Virtual Telecom Consumer Parliament (V-TCP) hosted by the Commission in Abuja with the theme: “Impact of Covid-19 on Telecoms Service Delivery”.

Danbatta said the NCC, in conjunction with the supervising ministry developed e-platforms to handle all requests from the licensees to ensure that regulatory services were provided to sustain service delivery to subscribers. These were in line with the commitment to playing their roles in sustaining quality of service delivery and quality of experience by the consumers who are critical stakeholders in the telecom industry.

In addition, “the Commission approved and encouraged resource sharing among network operators and secured Right of Passage (RoP) for all telecommunications companies and suppliers for easy movement during the lockdown. These measures enabled the operators to service their base stations and ensured seamless services for telecom consumers who increasingly relied on the networks during the pandemic.

Danbatta further averred that NCC, working with the ministry, is resolving the problem of high cost of Right of Way (RoW) with the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), adding that through such engagements, the state governors have lent their support for a robust broadband infrastructure.

“The Commission is hopeful that with the reduction in RoW, which will automatically result in reduction in capital expenditure (CAPEX) by the network operators, telecom companies will sooner than later reciprocate the gesture by making their services more affordable to Nigerians,” he said.

Danbatta maintained that these regulatory efforts had resulted in a presidential approval directing security agencies to protect Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and telecom facilities as critical national assets, adding that such measures had helped to safeguard telecom infrastructure for the greater role telecom has to play with the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.

He charged the service providers to constantly upgrade and expand their network capacity in order to deliver top-notch QoS to their consumers.

Earlier in a presentation, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management (ECSM), Barr. Adeleke Adewolu, showed the various Quality of Service (QoS) indicators for the second quarter of the year across the networks and how the consumer Quality of Experience compared with the parameters based on the voice of the consumer survey (VoxPop) conducted by the Commission.

He highlighted the challenges facing operators, which impact negatively on quality of service to include fibre cuts, vandalism and theft of telecommunications site equipment.

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