Despite the constraints and huge burden the N1.04 trillion fine by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC may have brought to MTN Nigeria in the past two weeks, there are two cheery sets of news that just might make the telecommunications operator Y’ello again.
One is that the same Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has approved the renewal, and consequent extension of the tenure of its operating spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency bands.
With this renewal and extension, MTN’s operating spectrum which was issued along with the Digital Mobile License (DML) in 2001 (with an original expiry date of 31 August 2016), has now been extended to 31stAugust, 2021.
The second is that many of the operators’ subscribers across Nigeria have expressed the willingness to stick by its network despite the burdens of the fine on its operations. Many of the subscribers who spoke to Vanguard Hi-tech, expressed brand loyalty, saying regardless of the fine, they would stick with the MTN through thick and thin as long as the telecoms giant remains constant in its delivery of quality service.
The commission imposed a whopping sum of $5.24 billion on the telecoms operator, penultimate week, over what it described as non-compliance in the deactivation of improper registered subscribers. In a latter development however, MTN revealed that the commission has in a letter dated November 2, 2015, signed by the acting Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umaru Dambatta, extended its operating license.
MTN quoted part of the letter to have read: “MTN will, however, be required to pay the sum of $94,225,152.75 (ninety four million, two hundred and twenty five thousand, one hundred and fifty two dollars, seventy five cents) as Spectrum fee for the 5 year extension period.”
Recall that in February 2001, pursuant to one of the most transparent mobile license auctions in the world, the NCC issued Digital Mobile Licenses, DML, to three pioneer mobile operators. The licenses were bundled with spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency bands. Amongst other authorisations, MTN also holds a Unified Access License and a 3G Spectrum License through which it provides a full bouquet of digital services to its esteemed customers throughout Nigeria.
An excited Corporate Services Executive of MTN, Akinwale Goodluck, speaking on the extended license said: “We view this extension as a demonstration of confidence in MTN’s capacity to continue to provide ground-breaking and innovative services to its customers, and another milestone in the evolution of the Nigerian communications industry.”
Apparently corroborating good luck, MTN subscribers across the country have expressed confidence in the network saying the fine would not make them move to another network. Some of them who spoke to Vanguard said that as long as they are getting preferable services from the network, the fine makes little meaning to them.
One subscriber, who gave his name as Mr. Akin Akintayo, said: “Interestingly, the fine will not in any way affect my patronage of MTN because I am sympathetic to the brand. I feel the penalty given to the company is too grevious. What offence could they have committed to attract a 1.4 trn naira fine? The only reason I’ll ever leave MTN is if there is a collapse in the network’s services that will be obvious to all.”
For Mr Christopher Akponome, another MTN subscriber, the situation is similar. “I don’t really know much about the fine and the circumstances surrounding it,” he said, “all I know is that I still use MTN and will continue to use it because I’m alright with the services.”
Mrs. Ogochukwu Mba ia another subscriber who says she is only interested in the quality of service provided by the company and nothing else. Her words: “I’m indifferent about the whole thing. The most important thing is the service.” If I see that they are having issues with the services provided on the network, then I can leave. But as long as I can call, text, browse and do everything else without hitches, I’m fine.”
MTN… As NCC advocates effective use of toll-free line
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has urged for Effective use of the nation’s toll-free lines (112) to further protect the sanctity of human life. The Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Dambatta gave the charge at the 10th year anniversary celebration of Lifeline Care Association sponsored by the Commission in Abuja.
Toll-free telephone number is a telephone number is a telephone number that is billed for all arriving calls instead of incurring charges to the originating telephone subscriber. The 112 is a toll free telephone emergency number that can be dialed from any fixed or mobile telephone in order to reach emergency services in numerous countries including Nigeria.
For the calling party, a call to a toll-free number is free of charge. The common and approved emergency number in Nigeria is 112. The NCC boss, who was represented by the Director, Projects at NCC, Mr. Ayodeji Sofolahan, who justified the introduction of Toll Free Number by the Commission said stated that the NCC chose the 112 as the emergency number for the country in line with the recommendations of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which recommended either 911 or 112 for emergency numbers.
He further explained that article 26 of the Universal Service Directive Standardized the use of 112 for emergency services and the GSM mobile phone standard designates 112 as an emergency number, which makes it possible for the number to be dialed on most GSM phones even if the phone is locked.
According to the NCC boss, the number can be dialled free of charge from any fixed or mobile telephone in order to reach emergency services including ambulance, fire and rescue, police in numerous counties, including Nigeria. The concept was to build and equip an Emergency Call Centre (ECC) in all the 36 states of the federation and FCT, to be managed by a National Emergency Communication Agency.
With this development, all telecom operators are required to route emergency calls from 112 in each state to the Emergency Centre within the state. The call-takers will process the distress calls and forward it to the dispatchers whom will escalate the distress calls to the relevant response agency whose primary duty it is to handle the case. The ECC dispatches distressed calls to response agencies called first responders, who will respond to the needs of the callers.
The ECC also ensure easy and effective coordination of access by the public to response agencies such as Police, FRSC, Fire Service, ambulance service for emergency services. Other responsibilities of the ECC are to take SMS and receive emails from callers that cannot make calls in an emergency situation and to maintain an audit of the emergency communication activities in the Centre at the database management system.
Out of the 36 centres and FCT, five are said to be live and operation. They include: Awka, FCT; Osogbo; Minna and Kano. According to the Commission, four additional centres of Makurdi, Bauchi; Gombe and Uyo are expected to go live before the end of the year, with another plan to active more 10 centres before March 2016.
According to NCC, there is no National Ambulance System in the country presently that could support the dispatched services offered by the ECCs. However, there is currently an ambulance service in Osun ECC through collaboration with the state government. Though, NCC said it is seeking to partner with state governments that already have ambulance services in place.