We want free data, air time not SMS, Nigerians reply telcos

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Nigerians have started reacting to the free SMS promised by telecommunication companies as they comply with the sit at home order of the Federal Government to curb the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The telcos took the decision after the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, appealed to them via his Twitter to offer their subscribers free data or airtime.

Keyamo made the appeal in order to ease the economic impact of COVID-19 on Nigerian workers, but instead, MTN Nigeria and Airtel Nigeria chose to offer their subscribers free SMS.

In a statement shared on Twitter, Airtel Nigeria said, “Airtel announces free SMS to all customers to connect with loved ones. Free SMS can be sent to all your friends and family across any network.” On the other hand, MTN Nigeria said it customers can send free 10 SMS daily for 30 days.

Similarly, MTN, among other measures announced to cushion the effect of the order, promised its subscribers 300 free SMS messages per month and also suspended transaction fees for all money transfers using the MoMo agent network.

But this act of generosity did not go down well with Nigerians who stormed the Twitter accounts of these telcos to let register their displeasure. @Drmuzoic responded to MTN, stating, “We need data to work effectively from home and stay abreast of new updates online. Take your SMS and reduce the price of data.”

Another twitter user, @onyipomping said, “We don’t need free SMS. Give us free data. Stingy network” While supporting Onyipomping, @Ajayidoying stated, “We hardly send SMS, we want data. SMS to do what?”

Also, @Amally_A told MTN Nigeria, “Data would have been better or even appreciated, SMS is outdated, reduce the price of subscription even if you can’t make it free, be considerate during this trying time.”

@screengoddez tweeted, “This Life we need data more than sms. MTN Nigeria is just playing with Nigerians. Why won’t they gift their customer’s data and phone call airtime? When they know Nigerians rarely send SMS these days because there are various messaging and social media apps for texts.”

Subscribers of Airtel Nigeria also lamented, with @obagomez1 stating, “Nice gesture, but in all honesty; 65% of your consumer base are more “internet/data” driven. I’d be glad to see a rolled out data price slash and higher lasting data volume even for 14days.”

The free offer also didn’t go down well with @duckieworld1 who tweeted, “When someone can send message on WhatsApp and other social media. You came up with SMS. You would have just said MMS make we know say na Stone Age we de. Well it is a matter of fact.”