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NCC’s telecoms consumer education initiatives on data usage and depletion issues

*The Consumer Affairs Bureau of the Nigerian Communications Commission intensifies telecoms consumer education and sensitisation on some of the major factors causing data depletion, offering practical tips via diverse media platforms on how subscribers can save data, get value for money, and maximise data usage in the telecoms ecosystem

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

As part of the Commission’s nationwide consumer information, education and sensitisation initiatives and programmes, the Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has highlighted some of the major causes of data depletion and practical tips to minimise it on mobile phones and other tech devices.

The telecoms sector regulatory Commission is reactivating the sensitisation campaigns across the West African country, following reported increasing complaints by telecoms consumers, who have consistently questioned the transparency of the service providers (Telcos) concerning data usage and depletion in the digital ecosystem.

Reports indicate several consumers have continually complained to the NCC about the relatively high rate at which their data bundles are consumed, shortly after they subscribe to the available data plans offered by telecoms subscribers in recent times.

Some of the subscribers had complained that their monthly data subscription plan does not last for a month before it is exhausted, and they are immediately cut off from having access to the Information Superhighway, otherwise known as the Internet.

Others have also complained that within few hours of their daily and weekly data plans subscription, they would be automatically disconnected from the Internet, not allowing them to enjoy full browsing of the Internet.

The consumer as central stakeholder in NCC’s mandate       

ConsumerConnect reports the Commission, in underscoring the consumer is the core of its regulatory mandate has offered practical tips on how telecoms subscribers can save data, and get value for money via diverse media platforms, including the Short Messaging Service (SMS) across the West African country.

The Commission, in some of the latest data-saving tips to telecoms consumers via SMS stated: “Want to enjoy your data for longer? Then, turn on data saver: go to settings, click on connections, data usage and then turn on data saver.

“Need to save data? Close unused background apps. Go to settings, click on data usage”, while also directing consumers to visit for more tips.

Besides, the NCC has deployed other consumer-centric programmes as a major tool to promote consumer rights.

It also continues to engage with consumers on consumer issues using its various outreach programmes, including the Telecom Consumer Parliament, Telecom Consumer Conversations: Market Conversation, Village Square Dialogue, Campus Conversation and NYSC Camp Sensitisation Town Hall on Radio.

Some activities that deplete consumer’s data, by NCC

  • Excessive usage: One of the main reasons for data depletion is excessive usage. If you use your phone to stream videos or music, download large files, or use data-intensive apps for a long time, your data limit can quickly be depleted.
  • Background apps: Some apps continue to consume data even when you’re not actively using them. Background data usage can quickly add up and deplete your data allowance.
  • Automatic updates: Automatic updates for apps, operating systems, and other software can also use up a significant amount of data.
  • Location services: GPS and other location services can consume a lot of data, especially if you use navigation apps like Google Maps.
  • Advertisements: Some apps display ads that use data. These ads can consume data even if you don’t interact with them.
  • Roaming: If you travel abroad and use your phone, you may be subject to data roaming charges, which can quickly add up and deplete your data allowance.
  • Malware: Malware and viruses can consume data without your knowledge. If you suspect that your phone has been infected, it’s important to remove the malware as soon as possible.

To reduce incidences of data depletion, you can monitor your data usage, turn off background data usage for specific apps, and switch off automatic updates. You can also use Wi-Fi whenever possible and avoid using data-intensive apps for extended periods.

Practical solutions to data depletion in telecoms ecosystem

The CAB of the Commission, in this 2nd stream of the nationwide consumer sensitisation campaigns also discusses the various ways of preventing data depletion, especially on mobile phones.

The following are a few suggestions:

  • Monitor your data usage: Check your data usage regularly to see how much you’re using and adjust your usage accordingly. Most phones have built-in data usage trackers, or you can use third-party apps to monitor your usage.
  • Use Wi-Fi: Connect to Wi-Fi whenever possible to avoid using your cellular data. You can connect to Wi-Fi at home, work, or in public places like cafes or libraries.
  • Turn off automatic updates: You can turn off automatic updates for apps, operating systems, and other software. Instead, update them manually when you’re connected to Wi-Fi.
  • Restrict background data usage: Some apps continue to consume data even when you’re not actively using them. You can restrict background data usage for specific apps to prevent them from using up your data allowance.
  • Download content for offline use: Download movies, TV shows, music, and podcasts for offline use when you’re connected to Wi-Fi. This way, you can watch or listen to them without using your data allowance.
  • Disable location services: GPS and other location services can consume a lot of data. You can disable location services for specific apps or turn them off altogether.
  • Install ad-blockers: Ad-blockers can prevent ads from consuming your data allowance.
  • Consider a larger data plan: If you consistently find yourself running out of data, you may want to consider upgrading to a larger data plan.

According to the Commission, by following the above suggestions, telecoms consumers can reduce the amount of data they use and prevent unnecessary data depletion on their smartphones and other devices.

On impact of advancements in new techs on data depletion

It is recalled the NCC, in the past year, disclosed it had traced such cases of fast data depletion to the advancement and explosion of new technologies across the globe.

The Commission equally exonerated telecoms subscribers from being responsible for fast data depletion, while it blamed the situation on the advancement of new technologies that have high rates of data consumption due to its increased download speed and connectivity speed at very low latency.

At the 91st Edition of the Telecoms Consumer Parliament (TCP) held 2023, in Abuja, FCT, with the theme, “Data Depletion: Discussions on Various Perspectives,” the Commission had explained to the audience, that “we are gathered to deliberate on the issue of data depletion, which has become one of the most prevalent complaints received from the telecoms consumers in the wake of their recent migration to 4G/LTE technology.

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) all over the world have had to face challenges occasioned by emerging technologies.

Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, employees and students alike were forced to operate from home during the lockdown, which stretched the existing infrastructure to its limits.

Nigeria, according to the telecoms sector regulator, also has moved with the rest of the world towards 5G technology, following the issuance of 3.5GHz spectrum licences to MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, MAFAB Communications Limited and Airtel Networks Limited in 2022.

In his remarks on the occasion, Mr. Ayanbanji Ojo, Head of Consumer Affairs Bureau at NCC, stated: “As a nation, we have struggled with the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown, which necessitated an upsurge in the use of data-enabled devices for communication, whether for school, work or social interaction.

“Our Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have also had to upgrade their infrastructure, so as to accommodate the extra pressure brought on by streaming platforms necessary for consumers to work, school and socialise.”

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