GSM networks respond to NCC's fines on network quality

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A statement on the fines imposed on Airtel, Etisalat, Globacom and MTN by the Nigerian Communications Commission relating to the network quality.

Airtel, Etisalat, Globacom and MTN would like to jointly issue a statement concerning the decision by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to sanction all four operators for failure to meet Quality of Service standards.

We would like to assure customers of all four networks that we are committed to providing high quality of service to our customers. Over the last ten years more than N 1 trillion has been invested in building and enhancing the four mobile networks. In 2012 alone, the four operators will be spending over N 400 billion of further investments in their networks. All four operators are actively competing with each other on quality of service to win the loyalty of existing customers and attract new customers.

We are all equally frustrated and concerned about the failures to meet customer expectations and needs with respect to the quality of service. Nigeria deserves and needs first class telecommunications networks. We thus apologise unreservedly to you, our customers, for those occasions when you have been disappointed or inconvenienced by a lapse or failure to deliver the requisite level of quality of service. We however believe that it is necessary to explain the major challenges we face as operators and ask for your understanding and support.

The main factor affecting quality of service is the absence of a reliable source of power. Every single site is powered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by two diesel Generators and requires regular supply of diesel as well as 24hours security protection. We need to recognise that benchmarking quality of service against countries which are not operating in such an environment is unrealistic.

The second major factor affecting network quality are frequent cuts of fibre networks which link the cell sites. These are frequently malicious in nature. Recently, operators have asked that Telecommunications Infrastructure be declared “Critical National Infrastructure” which would result in enhanced protection for these assets and criminalize the wilful damage of the same.

Another equally worrying development is the recent trend towards indiscriminate closure of sites by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal, State and Local Governments in pursuit of multiple taxation of telecommunications infrastructure.

Finally, the issue of security is a prevalent threat from our operating environment. We have had particularly unfortunate instances where our employees have been physically assaulted and in some instances killed during site maintenance visit, all in a quest to sustain service quality.

We wish to use this medium to call on the NCC, the National Environment Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, the Minister of Communication Technology, the National Assembly and the Office of the National Security Adviser to work in harmony to put in place an environment in which we can continue our substantial investments in pursuit of delivering world class telecommunications networks.

While we continue to make these investments which will also improve service quality, it needs to be pointed out that in the telecommunications industry, such investments do not yield the requisite improvement in service quality until well after 12 months. We are therefore concerned that fines will not bring about the desired service quality improvements or offer a lasting solution but will merely deplete essential resources that would otherwise be deployed for network roll out.

Also, due to capital-intensive nature of our operators, we are concerned that a regime of sanctions will inevitably erode the confidence of financial institutions and critical partners in the industry. We are also concerned that it could create an atmosphere of anxiety and regulatory uncertainty which is unattractive to investment. We are therefore actively engaging with our Regulator to resolve this issue.

Solutions being explored include ensuring a forward-looking quality of service framework, taking into account pertinent environmental factors affecting service delivery and preserving the capacity of the industry to attract the requisite levels of investment in infrastructure to meet stakeholder expectations.

Nigeria deserves and needs world class telecommunications networks. No sector in Nigeria has seen more progress than the telecommunications sector. We ask for the understanding of all stakeholders as we continue to invest and build the networks to the benefit of all Nigerians.



  1. NCC need to gear up and prosecute or stop any operator(s) that fail the requirement of quality service for Nigeria citizens

  2. Somany excuses….its like a farmer quarelling with his tools….the communication networks should go do their homework cos things cannot continue like this if the want to deliver good service…. I think the fine imposed on them is in place…thanks

  3. I empatize with the network providers esp with all the challenges they have gone thru in building and maintaining structures that shd have been set up by our local telecom corporation i.e NITEL as it is done in developed countries.

    I just hope Nigerians won’t have to wait till the rapture to enjoy quality telecommunication services.

  4. Strange things do happen in this our country. The coming together of these gsm operators is the alliance of strange bed fellows. Issue of quality of service is best handled on their individual merits as a separate business enterprise. Level of default varies between the operators. Though their coming together is largely expected anyway.
    On the other hand, any fine imposed must be converted to bonus credits for subscribers that bore the effects of those poor services. Not NCC pocketting it. That is what justice and fairness is all about.

  5. Well said. The challenges faced have been succinctly put especially about the multiple taxation and power generation.
    NCC should try to provide an enabling environment/atmosphere for the Telcos to operate in to d best of their ability and not just keep throwing dire warnings n sanction them when they don’t perform up to expectation.
    Right now NCC is looking quite disconnected about the poor performance of the Telco and looking more like grubby shylocks trying to make money for themselves instead of addressing the root causes of the challenges they encounter. What exactly are the fines paid meant to be used for?

  6. The Challenges listed by the networks -as mitigants against efficient service delivery- are quite real. The harsh operating environment is quite inauspicious. But then, every other business also has to grapple with these problems.

    Things like unfettered underground cable vandalism, epileptic power supply, undulating diesel price are factors that are totally outside the power of the networks.

    But there are factors that are totally in their power- such as, improved accuracy in Billing, prompt response to customer complaints, totally disclosing caveats when announcing promos, not taking on more subscribers than their system can sustain….

    It is symbolically heart_warming that NCC can nick (not BITE!) when the networks get too nonchalant about their QoS.

    Conclusively, when the Universal Numbering System takes off, we should see more effort expended to please / retain the subscribers- no matter the difficult business operating terrain that Nigeria IS….

  7. A govt that cannot provide even the most basic needs of its people is fining companies that are doing ok despite the bad conditions created by the govt itself. The govt should fine itself for bad roads, epileptic power supply, poor security and education before we can take them seriously. This fine is as stupid as the fine on foreign airlines a few weeks ago

  8. I’m trying to generate a modicum of sympathy for these telecomms operators but…it’s just not happening.

    They have access to the media and should be constantly highlighting these problems and lobbying the appropriate authorities. But it had to take fines by the NCC for them to issue this statement? It’s like the criminals I see so many times on TV, when they are caught their excuse is. “it was the devil”.

    Granted, Nigeria may not be the easiest environment to operate, but it’s not impossible either. Your services affect real people and their every day lives. There are some things beyond your control like vandalism and the arbitrary way the NCC do things, but you have a voice that we the consumers don’t. I’m sure if you took advantage of it, a lot of the consumers and stakeholders would easily be on side. Instead it’s like an “us” and “them” thing and the consumer is expected to put up and shut up. For communications operators you still have a lot to learn regarding the art of communications with your customers and stakeholders.

    Where are your customer charters after all these years operating in the country, or do you believe that is only for “others” and not for the Nigerian environment?
    Where is the “if we chop your credit, we will do x in return”?
    Or, “If your service disappears for two days, we will do y”?
    It doesn’t exist because most of us can be ignored (is it because we’re pre-pay and not post-pay?), even though we contribute billions to your operations annually.

    Like the incidents where there is loss of service, how many times do you make customers aware of what is happening, or is it too expensive to send out SMSes? The bombardment of promo SMSes selling us a service we don’t want or need can easily be replace with a responsive service (we really don’t mind the odd promo, just not all and every day) I once had a message from Airtel apologising for loss of service because a cable was cut somewhere (yes I was surprised because it’s a rarity). But others on the same network didn’t get it, not even my Significant Other who has had his SIM for eons.

    How do you explain the junk SMSes that many of us never ask for but keep getting, sometimes 14 or more in a day? Who have you sold our details to, and do you not feel you have a duty of care with our details beyond your profit margin?

    As for NCC why why why? It just seems like another parastal dark hole, where stuff goes in but very little output. I don’t think it had to get to this stage if, as Adnikky said, they had a comprehensive plan and enabling environment for telecommunications in this country and forged collaborative (not chop money) relationships in order to make telcomms in Nigeria the best on the continent.

    NCC had to step on the toes of the telecomms operators for them to feel it? Welcome to the world of your customers.

  9. If its so easy to run a business in nigeria, I wonder why Nitel/Mtel are dead. People condemning the network operators obviously havent had to run a business in Nigeria. They run on generators 24/7 on thousands of locations. I sympathize with them

  10. They run on generators 24/7 on thousands of locations. I sympathize with them

    Remember- They make money from subscribers EVERY SECOND toooo. I EMPHASIZE with them, instead.

    what they earn covers their operating costs. That is why they are still doing GOOD business!

    Issue of destruction of cables, forceful closure of some cell sites by some regulatory agency, force majeure -may indeed cause unanticipated disruptions..


    ….. If they brace up better to the other challenges, the QoS wikl surely improve…

  11. @Efe – because people do not come on Mobility and blab their business or what they do (for which I am grateful) does not mean they neither run a business nor know how to run one in Nigeria. Patronising is unbecoming. And not knowing how to run a business in Nigeria is not an excuse for poor customer service nor communication.

    Despite running on generators 24/7 they make a nice tidy profit each year no? Eye.Bee.Kay has said it best:

    “Remember- They make money from subscribers EVERY SECOND toooo. I EMPHASIZE with them, instead.

    what they earn covers their operating costs. That is why they are still doing GOOD business!

    Issue of destruction of cables, forceful closure of some cell sites by some regulatory agency, force majeure -may indeed cause unanticipated disruptions..


    ….. If they brace up better to the other challenges, the QoS wikl surely improve…”

  12. The problem with nigeria is that we expect the best but our country provides the worst conditions you can ever imagine. Granted, they make profit but making profit wont make the chronic logistics problem disappear. Money is not a silver bullet for every problem. I have seen business fold up before my eyes because of just Nepa problem. network providers have to deal with much more than that. MAN estimates that 70% of its members have folded up over the years. Despite overwhelming government support, nitel was never able to match the standard of mtn and co. QoS can be frustrating but call a spade a spade. We cannot just wish conditions away. These providers are trying their best. Is there any industry in nigeria that is working as sell as the telecomms industry? We should direct our anger at the government for failing in everything

  13. A few weeks ago, banks in some states closed up shop to protest insecurity. At most each bank has a branch or two in those areas. telecomms companies will have to deal with hundreds of vandalisation cases in hundreds of locations. Yet they cant shutdown a mast to protest. They must be on 24/7. Nobody wants to know. How long does it take PHCN to change a faulty transformer even after collecting money from each household? How long does it take them to change a faulty fuse? In many areas, Banks fail to refill atm machines regularly. Just imagine if they had to run generators 24/7 for those atm machines, will they ever work? Its easy to sit on a couch and criticize. Try it and see. As for me, networks are trying. The quality is acceptable considering circumstances. The big failure is the government

  14. @Efe,
    Your arguments are not quite EFE-ctive !
    I have re-produced the following for your re-examination.

    Things like unfettered underground cable vandalism, epileptic power supply,undulating diesel price are factors that are totally outside the power of the networks.
    But there are factors that are totally in their power- such as, improved accuracy in Billing, prompt response to customer complaints, totally disclosing caveats when announcing promos, not taking on more subscribers than their system can sustain


    We acknowledge the difficult biz terrain.

    But there are areas of definite improvement which have nothing to do with Nigeria’s infrastructural cum administrative decay.

    If i call Customer service, and i am kept on hold interminably, watz dat gotta do with govt?

    If my credit gets embezzled or they renege on a promise (like when i loaded N200 credit five times on Etisalat without being credited with the promised 15mb)- is that GEJ’s doing?

    If I employ numbskull CROs (that often lack technical knowledge), that is a failing that can be redressed!

  15. When you spend all your money on buying diesel, it affects other areas of your business. That is what you have to understand. When your resources are spread across things that ordinarily should be there, other areas will/must suffer. You want them to take on only the number of customers they can handle, lol. Would you like them to tell people, “sorry, our network is congested, activate your line in 3 months”? You dont drive customers away. Thats suicide. You only try to meet up. Their billing is acceptable. Mtn shows you how much you were charged on the last call.

    Try to read complaints of telecomms subscribers in far more developed cointries. You will realise our network providers are doing an above average job.

  16. is @Efe guy/gal a Nigerian living in nigeria or a chadian passing through?
    your statements shows a disconnect of the issues

  17. Another friend of Eye_bee_kay, has any1 heard from Glenda lately. Lol, NHI

  18. (++
    has any1 heard from Glenda lately

    GlendaBOT is in a WORKSHOP. A part is missing that cannot be found to bring IT back to ‘life’

  19. @Eye.Bee.Kay you wait, Glenda will re-appear when you least expect it, lol.
    (admit it, you are missing your formidable opponent!)

  20. @efe:

    … When your resources are spread across things that ordinarily should be there,…

    Do you also believe that those misleading promos is as a result of their resources being channeled in things that ordinarily should be on ground? Airtel is years ahead of Etisalat in this country and yet Etisalat offers better services than Airtel. Are both not operating on the same business terrain?

    The telecoms operators in this country are definitely trying but we should not blame all their shortcomings on the business terrain that is Nigeria. Being intentionally misleading is simply not good and running rackets in the name of promos should be stamped out of their systems.

  21. What part shows a disconnect of issues? You are too willing to bash telecomms operators to want to hear the truth. Not surprised. Nigerians are generally disconnected from reality or prefer lies. We want quality of service to be as goood as that found in other countries but forget our country has one of the harshest business climate in the world. I cited MAN, the manufacturing body. MAN estimates that up to 70% of its members have folded up due to the harsh business climate. Many business including nigerian businesses have packed up and have gone to places like ghana. The fact that all the operators suffer the same issues is a pointer to the fact that despite their best effort, problems persist. I remember when people used to sing the praise of etisalat, today eyebeekay is complaining about the same etisalat. We should be realistic. This unrealistic expectation is found in all aspects of our national life. We expect the police to be as efficient as their foreign counterparts with little or no tools. The same episode played out when our “honourable” minister of aviation decided to play to the gallery and fine foreign airlines. At the end of the day, the government was embarassed. Our anger should be directed at the govt for failing in everything and we should encourage the few people that are actually making things work

  22. @Efe,now you are talking in context,i like your last contribution.But you see,its not the same thing with this Telcos.If its this bad asthey are painting it,why the hell are they ripping us through thier stupid promos? why cant they answer our ques when they push down our throats poor services? are we not paying for the poor srvices.they didnt drop their tariffs because they respect us,rather because of rivalry,in other not to loose customers to others.our mistreatment pales the highcost of operations,becau

  23. (admit it, you are missing your formidable opponent!)

    @Noni, i searched in vain for the word ‘formidable’. It does not exist in my dictionary o. ( scratching head in perplexity )

  24. Nobody does business out of respect or love for that matter. There should be no sentiment in business otherwise you will run yourself down. Weeks ago, Mr Mobility complained about the harsh blogging industry and resolved that he would no longer do give out info for free. Many mobility readers complained about the “dropping quality” of mobility articles due to that decision. Without sentiment, Yomi told us it is what is best for his business. For those involved in blogging, they totally understood Yomi’s stand. Months ago, my friends and I produced a tech mag. We ran generators throughout and it ate deep into the money we didnt really have. So no business does anything out of respect. The respect some seem to show is to hoodwink you into remaining loyal. Mtn and co will do what is best for them and their business.

  25. Good thing you mentioned tariffs. It further buttresses how unrealistic we are. We know the challenges faced by these networks yet we want the same with other parts of the world.
    This respect thing is also talked about when nokia is involved and I keep reminding people that comment here that nokia is a business and doesnt run on sentiments. We view nokia as our national asset and expect them to cater to our unique needs. We want them to officially launch their best smartphones in nigeria despite the fact that nigeria is a negligible smartphone market

  26. Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Tony Ojobo, says the nation’s telecoms regulator, which recently sanctioned four GSM network operators a total of N1.17billion in poor service quality fines had given the erring operators “gestation period” between when they launched services in 2001 and now to grapple with various challenges

  27. I just read somewhere that our government while collecting huge sums as license fee assured network operators that Nitel’s infracture will serve them adequately. When the operators came onboard, they found that claim to be FALSE

  28. Have guys seen the response from the Nigeria Telecommunication Association, plus the matter is now in court. Operators dont want to pay because its in court and NCC says fine for not paying is 2.5million per day. Hoping to see how this will end.

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