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Nigerian regulator calms fears over mobile tariff hike

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it won't let Nigerian operators hike mobile prices without a cost study first.

The authority was responding to numerous local media reports at the end of last week that claimed the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) had proposed a 40% hike in call and SMS tariffs due to rising costs.

The NCC confirmed that it had received a letter from ALTON citing the high cost of running their operations as the major reason for the telco's proposed tariff hike on telecoms services.

"The Commission wishes to categorically inform telecoms subscribers and allay the fears of Nigerians that no tariff increase will be effected by the operators without due regulatory approval by the Commission," the NCC said in a statement.

"Consistent with international best practice and established regulatory procedures, the NCC ensures its regulatory activities are guided by regular cost-based and empirical studies to determine appropriate cost (upper and floor price) within which service providers are allowed to charge their subscribers for services delivered," it added.

Nigerian consumers are feeling the pinch as double-digit inflation has seen rising food prices, fuel shortages and supply-chain shocks caused by the war in Ukraine.

The regulator said that while there could be justifiable reasons for mobile operators' demands for a tariff increase, they are not allowed to do so either individually or collectively "without recourse to NCC, following the outcome of a cost study" and "this is not the case for now."

"Through NCC's commitment to engendering healthy competition among the licensees, the cost of services has been democratised and become more and more affordable for Nigerian subscribers. The regulator is even more committed to this cause to ensure subscribers get greater value for money spent on telecom services."

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*Top image source: People with mobile photo created by DCStudio - www.freepik.com.

— The Staff, Connecting Africa

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