The Nigerian Communications Commission has responded to the petition by Android users demanding for special data plans for smartphones running Android OS. This official response is at variance with the earlier fake response that some claimed was from the NCC. Here is the full response as published on the NCC Facebook page:
The NCC as a regulator is responsible for promotion of fair competition in the communications industry and protection of communications services and facilities providers from misuse of market power or anti-competitive and unfair practices by other service or facilities providers or equipment suppliers.
The issue of data usage on Blackberry and Android smart phones has been generating a lot of comments lately and the Commission has a duty to protect and inform all stakeholders in the industry on all issues of concern.
RIM, the manufacturer of BlackBerry, utilizes a special compression algorithm to serve users of Blackberry handsets who have subscribed for Blackberry internet service. Whenever such a subscriber browses the internet and opens a webpage, a request is sent via the handset’s browser requesting for the page to be downloaded to the phone. This request is channeled to RIM’s gateway in Canada, which fetches the webpage, compresses it and sends the compressed data back to the BlackBerry phone as a download.
On an Android phone, the request to open a webpage by telephone subscribers is sent to the gateway of the network operator which then processes the information and sends back the page to the Android phone as a download (the data is not compressed – thereby requiring more bandwidth).
The amount of bandwidth uploaded is identical between both Blackberry and Android phones, the difference lies in the fact that most of what subscribers do on their phones is to download content which varies on both. BlackBerry is indirectly subsidizing bandwidth by compressing the content downloaded by subscribers.
In effect, an internet subscriber using an Android smartphone to open a webpage may be downloading 100KB of data, while a subscriber using a Blackberry opening the very same webpage would be downloading 25KB due to the compression of data by RIM.
Bandwidth in Nigeria is an expensive resource, because most data is transferred wirelessly. This is the reason why the NCC is promoting wired infrastructure around the country through such projects as WIN (Wire Nigeria) as well promoting a Broadband Roadmap for the country which will greatly reduce the cost of bandwidth thereby reducing the cost of browsing the internet on smartphones.
No Special Data Plans For Android Required
As has been explained here on MobilityArena several times, and as I pointed out when the petition was launched, the summary of the matter is that BlackBerry Ltd is indirectly subsidizing bandwidth by compressing the content downloaded by subscribers. This reduces the impact on telcos networks, which translates into some savings for them. Android users should be petitioning Google for similar compression technology or to make deals with telecom operators to make the special tariffs happen.
We all want cheaper generic mobile data plans, and I have no doubt that they will come. But like I said earlier, this petition for special data plans for Android OS was ill-advised and had no chance of success. Eventually, we will get a reduction in generic mobile data tariffs, but certainly not anything specific to Android phones unless Google makes it happen.