Telecomms: “We may increase tariffs” — Telcos union warns

Telecommunications firms, (Telcos), have expressed readiness to introduce price differentials in regions hostile to their operations.

The operators, under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, (ALTON), therefore, issued a seven-day warning and appealed to the Federal Government to urgently intervene on the challenges plaguing the sector.

ALTON Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo, who disclosed this during an interaction with newsmen in Lagos on Thursday, however, said before telcos begin discriminatory pricing, they would meet with the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC).

Adebayo said the challenges currently confronting members include seizure of cellular sites by State governments, degrading quality of service in Abuja, high cost of diesel and lack of safety for telecoms workers.

He said: “ALTON and its members will no longer tolerate discriminatory charges against the sector. The industry is planning to begin a study on varying tariffs to some of the unfriendly telecommunications States, to accommodate their demands.

“The States that are requesting non-statutory levies and taxes are the ones being subsidised by some viable ones”.

He alleged that the seizure of cellular sites in Kogi by the State government has resulted in outages at over 70 sites, including hubs, across parts of the State.

According to Adebayo, this could lead to a total communications blackout in the entire Kogi and parts of Abuja. It could also impact on service availability in some parts of Nasarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara and Niger States; these are States sharing borders with Kogi.

“The impact of this outage will gradually spread to the states mentioned above. And if no action is taken within the next few days, a total outage of telecommunications sites in all these states will be catastrophically experienced”, he stated.

Expressing concern over what he described as degrading the quality of service in Abuja, Adebayo alleged that the Federal Capital Development Authority, (FCDA), office of the Director for Signage and Advertisement, refused to grant telecommunications service providers permit to build infrastructure.

He called on the Federal Executive Council (FEC) “to prevail on FCDA in granting approval/permit to our members to deploy infrastructure”.

On the impact of rising energy costs, especially diesel, the ALTON boss, said operators are concerned that unless there is an intervention to save the sector, operators will have no choice but begin a process of price review.

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