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Data Depletion: NCC engages stakeholders



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As part of activities to mark the 2023 World Consumer Rights Day, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) met with telecommunications companies and other relevant stakeholders on Thursday, to address the problem of abnormal data depletion being faced by data users in the nation.

The session, according to Umar Garba Danbatta, Vice Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the NCC, was essential for discussing data depletion, which has emerged as one of the most common complaints from telecom users following their recent transition to 4G/LTE technology.

Danbatta stated that it was critical to address the problem, particularly as the nation progresses toward 5G technology alongside the rest of the world.

The EVC, who was represented by, NCC Director, Licensing and Authorisation, Muhammed Babajika, spoke at the 91st edition of the Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP), with the theme “Data Depletion: Discussions on Various Perspectives” organised by the Commission in Abuja

He said: “In line with our mandate to protect, inform and educate the telecom consumers, this event is one of our high-level dialogue forums held twice a year to exchange ideas on salient issues affecting the consumers of telecom services in the country.

“Consumers have been experiencing depletion of their data either as a result of data usage or consumption, and are constantly informing the Commission of their experience through our various complaints channels.

“The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was the catalyst for the global explosion of new technologies which opened up an array of services, dynamic business models and new opportunities and markets globally. The Nigerian telecom industry was not left out, going by the documented upsurge in the use of computers, smartphones, smartwatches, and other technology-dependent devices which have given consumers access to multi-functional comfort and utility. Technology has eased interaction for a majority of the populace using social and instant messaging applications. No doubt, the underlying technology for these services is the internet, which drives connectivity. It is within the context of the subscription and usage of the internet that consumers are experiencing what they refer to as abnormal depletion of their data, which gives rise to the reason we are here today.

“Mobile Network Operators all over the world have had to face challenges occasioned by emerging technologies. Particularly during the pandemic, employees and students alike were forced to operate from home during the lockdown, .which stretched the existing infrastructure to its limits.

“This deliberation could therefore not have come at a more auspicious time, as Nigeria moves with the rest of the world towards 5G technology following the issuance of 3.5GHz spectrum licenses to MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, MAFAB Communications Limited and Airtel Networks Limited.

“It is pertinent to know that whereas 4G offers better download speeds, higher bandwidth and voice quality than 3G technology, 5G technology provides the additional benefits of ultra-high-speed data, low latency and higher bandwidth over 4G technology. It is therefore important that we completely appreciate and understand the issues surrounding data depletion, its usage and consumption in the era of 4G technology before we fully commence 5G usage.

“The interests of the telecom consumer are of paramount importance to us and as the telecom regulator, we have the responsibility of ensuring that the consumer’s voice is heard and that the relevant authorities address their complaints.

“It is against this backdrop that the Commission invited the key industry players today to dialogue on the theme to understand the various perspectives on this prevalent issue, identify the possible causes, and brainstorm on the way forward.

“During this programme, we will listen to representatives of the Regulator, the Industry and the Consumer Advocacy Groups as they present the issue of data depletion as seen from their respective perspectives.


“As much as the Commission has an obligation to the telecom consumer, it also has an obligation to the Industry; a symbiotic relationship in which one party cannot survive without the other. The consumers are the basis for the operators’ business; if their interests are ignored, the operators’ investments would collapse, and there would be no industry for the Commission to regulate. It is thus expedient that we utilize opportunities presented by the Commission’s high-level outreach events such as this Parliament to genuinely exchange ideas on how to reduce the challenges militating against effective service provision to the barest minimum.”

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