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NCC and consumer sensitisation on data management strategies for improved QoE

Photo Collage of NCC’s NYSC Sensitisation Programme to Educate Corps Members, in Abuja, FCT, and Nasarawa State

*The Nigerian Communications Commission also activates NYSC Sensitisation Programme to educate Corps members on common complaints about data expiry dilemma, data depletion, and outright poor network/Internet connectivity, among others, as the Commission restates it places ‘the consumer’ at the centre of regulatory policies and practices to foster a fair and equitable relationship between the Mobile Network Operators and telecoms consumers  

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

As part of the Commission’s core mandate of promoting consumer education, rights privileges, and interests, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has continued to intensify consumer sensitisation exercise on data management strategies, to enable them improve and maximise their Quality of Experience (QoE) in the country’s ecosystem.

ConsumerConnect reports telecoms sector regulatory Commission has stated that it places “the consumer” at the centre of telecommunications policies and practices with a view to fostering a fair and equitable relationship between the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Nigerian people.

The timely consumer sensitisation exercise, through the Commission’s Consumers Affairs Bureau (CAB), is also said to have become essential in regard to the increasing common complaints about data expiry dilemma, data depletion, and outright poor network/Internet connectivity, among other issues.

Hitherto, the Commission had embarked on sentitisation of telecoms consumers through its several consumer-centric initiatives, including market sensitisation of men and women on how several ways to better manage their data usage.

Likewise, the NCC through its Campus Conversation initiative, has sensitised students in Universities and other tertiary institutions of learning on how to manage their Internet data usage on mobile telecommunications networks to reduce the high rate of data depletion many usually complain about.

According to the industry regulator, the Campus Conversation concept is designed to educate students on NCC’s various consumer-centric initiatives towards protecting telecoms consumers against unfair practices by service providers.

NCC activates NYSC Sensitisation Programme, enlightens Corps members on data management

In pushing the consumer education and sensitisation drive beyond the campuses, the Commission’s officials have equally visited serving members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) on ways to avoid data depletion.

The team from the Commission, led by Ms Sumbo Olawaiye, Assistant Director at NCC organised an NYSC Sensitisation Programme at the orientation camp in Keffi Nasarawa State.

Similarly, NCC during the week has continued consumer sensitisation campaign on data management strategies as the team visited the FCT NYSC Camp, Kubwa, in Abuja, FCT.

It was gathered that on the team Monday, May 6, 2024, in Abuja were Ms Sumbo Olawaiye, Assistant Director of the Nigerian Communications Commission, with some other Senior Staff of the Commission for the sensitisation programme.

Mr. Ayanbanji Ojo, Head of Consumers Affairs at NCC, in one of the ‘Campus Conversation’ series in the past year, had explained that a consumer would experience high rate of data depletion when such a consumer turns on “automatic updates” of apps, videos and pictures to the cloud on smartphones.

Ojo said that faster download speeds due to 4G coverage and downloading on higher defaults video formats like 5G and 4G, compared to 3G and 2G mobile network could also result in high rate of data depletion.

He equally noted that consumers could manage their data usage by the use of data compression in phone browsers, disable mobile data when Internet connection not needed and by reducing video streaming quality from video sites such as YouTube, among other practical strategies.

Key objectives of consumer education and sensitisation

The telecoms sector regulator has stated that the initiative is “consistent with the mandate of the Commission to Protect, Inform and Educate the Nigerian Telecom Consumers.

“One of the mandates of the commission is the ‘Protection of the rights and interests of Consumers’.

“This can only be achieved when consumers are well-informed and educated on their rights and obligations as telecoms consumers.”

The overall aim of the initiative is to reach a wider audience and better equip consumers with the requisite knowledge and tools to manage their telecoms services effectively.

As regards the need to focus the consumer sensitisation exercise on the Nigerian youths, a top official of the NCC once posited the involvement of youths in indigenous telecommunications innovation would bring “fresh perspectives and new ideas”, which would drive a meaningful change in the indigenous telecommunications sector of the economy.

Besides, in recent years, the telecommunications landscape in Nigeria is said to have witnessed exponential growth, with an increasing number of users relying on data services for communication and connectivity at home, schools, businesses, offices and organisations.

Subsequently, data service has become a tremendously successful market segment for Telcos, a report said.

It is also noted that in third quarter (Q3) 2023, Nigeria’s top mobile network operators, MTN and Airtel, collectively generated N403.2 billion from data services.

MTN, the country’s largest telecoms operator, recorded a 38.9 percent increase, reaching N279.5 billion in data revenue compared to N201.1 billion in the same period the previous year.

Airtel Nigeria also experienced a 29.3 percent growth, reporting N123.7 billion in data subscriptions for the quarter ending September 2023.

Though both telecoms giants had attributed the surge to heightened data consumption by their customers, the overall experience with data services being offered by MNOs in the country yet leaves much to be desired, prompting an urgent need for regulatory intervention by the NCC.

Meanwhile, industry observers have submitted that the Commission should initiate a comprehensive review of data expiration policies imposed by Telcos.

This includes considering the extension or elimination of expiration periods for unused data to grant users more flexibility.

It is also suggested that the NCC should mandate network operators to clearly and concisely communicate data expiration details during plan subscriptions.

The NCC should look at enforcing fair pricing while regularly assessing and regulating data pricing to prevent exorbitant rates, ensuring consumers receive value for money in terms of data speed and service quality.

This ensures consumers are well-informed about the implications of unused data and associated expiration policies in the telecoms space in the country, the report stated.

As the Commission continues to do, enlightenment and educational initiatives are crucial for consumer empowerment, and the NCC should launch more campaigns to inform consumers about their rights and provide accessible information on data plans, expiration policies, and troubleshooting tips in order for them to get value for money spent on Internet data.

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