Nigeria’s 100 million Internet users will begin to pay more for data services tomorrow as continuing economic slowdown slashes telecoms sector growth to an all-time low.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the government agency that regulates telecommunication services, last month directed service providers to increase data subscription by almost 100 per cent beginning from December 1, 2016. A data plan of N1,000 for 1.5 gigabytes will now cost N3,000 at N1,000 per 500 megabytes.
Increase in cost of data services from MTN, Airtel, Etisalat, Globacom and other fringe service providers by as much as 100 per cent will cut off a large chunk of youths and other low-income adults from the social media and undermine Nigeria’s two-year plan for 30-per cent increase in broadband penetration.
It could also worsen the country’s security challenges, according to Mr. Deolu Ogunbanjo, President of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), the umbrella body for telecoms service users, who together with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) rejected the plan.
In a letter to the mobile operators dated November 1, NCC said the interim floor price for data services was 0.90k/MB for the five big operators. Already, MTN, Glo, Etisalat and Airtel had alerted their customers on the impending increase in data tariff by December 1, 2016 and the issue is generating public outcry.
Service providers, especially the MTN Nigeria, have in text messages to subscribers confirmed readiness to implement the directive of the NCC. “Dear customer, please be informed that from 1st of December, some MTN data tariffs will be increased to reflect the new rates set by the NCC for operators. Thank you,” MTN informed its customers.