Preliminary report of the forensic audit conducted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has shown that MTN and Airtel top the list of mobile network operators (MNOs) with the highest number of subscriber complaints over suspicious data depletion incidences.
No fewer than 106 data complaints have been filed against Airtel, MTN, 9mobile and Glo, according to findings made by the Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Department (CMED) of the Commission.
The findings were made into all four mobile network operators in Nigeria.
According to the report, out of the 106 complaints received by the CMDE, 46 came from MTN subscribers while Airtel had 34. Glo had 19 while Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Limited, doing business as 9mobile, had the least complaints of seven.
A source from the Commission hinted at several reasons why data complaints have doubled during this period. He mentioned some of them as: COVID-19 pandemic and attendant lockdown to stem community spread of the virus; periodic application update on the smartphones; and conversion of mobile data to WiFi to share with other people.
On his part, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive, NCC, Prof. Garba Danbatta said the Commission will look into the findings made available by the CMDE and take necessary actions.
“We have made good progress on the forensic audit on data depletion,” Danbatta said.
“NCC has instituted a forensic audit on the cost of data, just like we did with cost of Short Message Service (SMS) on a particular mobile operator, where we discovered that the operator unlawfully surcharged its subscribers to the tune of over N100 million and we have asked the particular operator to make refunds immediately and the operator has commenced refund to the affected subscribers. This could have gone unnoticed, if not for the quick intervention of NCC. We have plans to even extend the forensic audit on SMS to other telecoms operators.
“So, like we did for SMS, we are doing same for data to find out the reason for fast data depletion and it will be carried out across all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). By the time the audit is completed and the result is out, perhaps we will have better information of what is happening in the data segment, as it relates to fast data depletion,” Dambatta said.
He further hinted at the Commission’s desire to cut down on data charges to as low as N390 for 1GB by the year 2025.
“The target, as enshrined in the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) is to achieve N390/Gigabyte in the cost of data by the end of 2025, but the recent benchmarking that the NCC did, showed that the cost of data has reduced to more than 50 per cent from what it used to be at the beginning of 2020. For us, as industry regulator, this is a good sign that data cost is coming down and that the issue of data depletion as experienced by subscribers, is gradually been addressed.
“Although the reduction in the cost of data may not completely address the issue of fast data depletion as currently being experienced by subscribers, but that NCC is considering a new measure that will completely address the issue of data depletion,” Dambatta said.