Drop calls: Fashola, legislators accuse NCC of siding with telecom companies

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BABATUNDE Fashola, minister of Works and Housing, and some senators have scurried the Nigerian Communications Commission for protecting the telecoms companies over increasing cases of dropped calls in the country.

The minister and legislators spoke at the public hearing on the increasing rate of drop calls and other unwholesome practices by telecom network operators in Nigeria on Wednesday in Abuja.

Prior to their allegation, the NCC had accused the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing of giving construction of projects to contractors who cut cables of telecom companies, resulting in drop calls.

At the public hearing, B. Wakil, an engineer who is the NCC director of Technical Standards and Network Integrity, claimed that service providers have become victims of multiple taxation by states and federal governments.

He also cited cases of cutting of cables and vandalisation of telecoms installations by criminals due to insecurity.

He added that with the overstretched subscriber’s base, it is not easy for telecom service providers to provide the required capacity of infrastructure to adequately cover the country.

Wakil also blamed the state and federal governments for the high cost of right of ways, saying in some states, it is N5, 000 per meter, while higher in some others.

He stated that in a particular month, they recorded 1,065 fibre cable cuts, even as he listed banditry, intermittent shutdown of service stations by state agents, border closure policy of government, which hinders gas supply to installations in border communities, poor power supply as part of the causes of drop calls, saying such challenges happen only in Nigeria.

Annoyed by the NCC’s claims, Fashola pointed that government over the past 20 years have divested in state assets, adding that laws have also been made within the period to ensure adequate regulations.

He emphasised that the leader of the regulatory agency has enormous powers and must have a different nationalistic mindset if it must succeed in the task.

He said the defence of double taxation by the state and federal governments on telecoms companies is ill-conceived, adding that such should not be coming from NCC that should regulate the companies.

The minister also dismissed the claim by NCC that there was poor power supply to the telecoms companies, reminding the Senate that telecoms companies were asked to purchase their powers directly from the generating companies and bypass the distribution companies but they refused.

He implored the Senate to invite more technical people to help them understand what is actually happening with regards to the dropped calls.

He revealed that at the onset of telecoms deregulation, the telecoms companies were asked to co-locate their cables, masts, and installations for better security, cheaper right of way and to avoid cutting of cables by contractors, but they refused and rather went to court to challenge government.

According to him, the head of the regulatory agency must be on the side of Nigerians, while encouraging investors, adding that this is where how the heads of such agencies are recruited should be taken seriously.

It is a question of service delivery and who is to deliver it to Nigerians.

Also, members of the Committee were surprised that NCC is backing the telecoms companies for increasing call drops.

Reacting, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele berated the NCC for protecting the telecoms operatives.

Bamidele stated that the issue of dropped calls affected virtually every Nigerian and no telecoms company accounts for the costs incurred by costumers through such.

He added that the issue of dropped calls is not allowed in other countries, wondering how NCC could be backing telecoms companies on the issue.

– Feb 20, 2020 @ 08:25 GMT |

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