In the last 15 years of introducing Special Number Service (SNS) providers, there are less than 3,000 people using the service in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said.
NCC is therefore taking a decisive regulatory move to ensure sustainability, profitability and fair competition in the SNS segment of the nation’s telecommunications sector.
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This move informed the decision of the Commission to hold a Stakeholders’ Forum on the ‘Determination of Call Termination Rate for Special Numbering Service Providers in Nigeria.’
The forum, held at the Conference Room, NCC Head Office in Abuja, was attended by representatives of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), SNS providers and other stakeholders.
Addressing the gathering, the Director, Policy, Competition and Economic Analysis at NCC, Yetunde Akinloye, said the meeting was convened following the extensive work of a committee set up by the Commission to look into the issues and complaints emanating from the SNS segment of the telecoms market.
A key concern, according to her, was the perception of the high cost of delivering services to end-users in the SNS segment.
Akinloye explained that owing to the scarce and finite nature of the numbers in the sector, the NCC, as the regulator, was under obligation to ensure the utilisation of the numbers by the licensees in a way that delivers value to the final consumers and ensures the sustainability of the industry.
“The SNS has been in existence for the past 15 years, with some licensees actively engaged in the segment.
“However, we have noted some observations and complaints from different quarters on the use of these numbers.
“We have observed, for instance, that there has been no effective utilisation of the numbers,” she said.
Akinloye also said the Commission had observed that the uptake of the numbers has been abysmally poor, contrary to NCC’s expectation as the sectoral regulator.
She stated that NCC had also received complaints from the licensees regarding the perceived high rates and charges by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) who are owners of the major infrastructure being used by SNS providers to deliver services to end-users.
According to her, based on this, the NCC set up a committee to do a thorough review of the market segment; research similar markets in other jurisdictions for benchmarking; and determine the appropriate call termination rates, through proper investigation, consultation and stakeholder engagements.
Also speaking during the meeting, Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, NCC, Bako Wakil, lamented that the SNS segment of the market has not been fully maximised because of the cost elements involved.
However, Wakil said, if the cost could be reduced, there will be greater benefits from economies of scale.
“So, there has to be a way of making people use the service more if the price is appropriate,” Wakili noted.