Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday charged telecommunications service providers in the country to improve their services or leave the country.
Lawan spoke while declaring open a one-day joint public hearing on the incidence of drop calls in the country.
The public hearing, tagged: “The increasing rate of drop calls and other unwholesome practices by Telecommunications Network Operators in Nigeria that have robbed Nigerians of their hard earned billions of Naira” was organized by the Senate Committees on Communication and Trade and Investment, chaired by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central).
The Senate President said that it is wrong for Nigerians to be made to pay for calls which did not connect.
He said that the National Assembly would henceforth be tough on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure that they carry out their regulatory functions effectively.
He lamented that all service providers are complicit in the rising cases of drop calls in the country for which they charge Nigerians.
Lawan said: “Whoever will provide better services, I think Nigerians will be better advised to use that service whatever it is.
“And whoever is not, Nigerians should abandon such a service provider. But at the moment all the service providers are involved in this drop calls.
“We pay for drop calls and drop calls are not services provided. For service providers, I am sorry I have to be brash and I have to be blunt, this is cumulative frustration of services not provided by telcos for years.
“The most painful part it is you don’t do it anywhere else. You do it in this country. We suffer. MTN in South Africa don’t do what they do here. Or even in Ghana.
“But in Nigeria, maybe because we are too fatalistic by saying maybe that is what God wishes, meanwhile somebody pockets billions.
“Please, let this be a journey for us in Government representing the people and you, service providers, business institutions or organizations come together and resolve this issue. It is high time.
“I know some of you will say well, we have heard this before, honestly we are going to be tough with the NCC.
“NCC should sit up and do what it is expected to do – to regulate properly because we have oversight function on NCC.
“But you (telcos) you are in business. If you are tired of what is going on I think we will insist on what may appear an uphill task.”
Senator Tinubu in her opening remarks noted that the Nigerian telecoms industry has greatly excelled over the last decade with impressive statistics to show for it.
She how lamented that the achievements in the industry have been greatly hampered by the worsening quality of service by operators.
She lamented that difficulties are often encountered in making telephone calls and “where the call eventually goes through, the caller is either unable to hear the receiver or vice versa.”
She insisted that in spite of a call being unsuccessful, the caller’s account still get charged.
Senator Tinubu said: “The achievements of the industry in the last 18 years are burdened and dwarfed by worsening Quality of Service (QOS) especially noticeable in the increasing rate of drop calls and other unwholesome practices by telecommunications network Operators.
“This and other unsatisfactory consumer experiences have made the issue a cause for concern.
“Difficulties are often encountered in making telephone calls and where the call eventually goes through, the caller is either unable to hear the receiver or vice versa.
“In spite of the call being unsuccessful, the caller’s account still gets charged. In addition, call credit often disappears from the subscribers phones without justifiable explanation.”
She further noted that “it is obvious that while the subscriber base across the networks is growing at a geometric proportion, service providers have not adequately invested in infrastructure in order to stem the tide of drop calls.
“As direct representatives of the Nigerian people, it will be absurd to fold our arms and allow this situation continue unabated.
“Certainly, all involved, starting from the operators, must confront the issue of drop calls owing to its negative impact on National Security and our nation’s economy.
“It is my belief therefore, that it is instructive for both the regulator and operators; and of course all relevant stakeholders, to strive to resolve this challenge of drop calls so as to justify the confidence of subscribers who keep them in business.”
Stakeholders that attended the public hearing included the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Umar Dambata, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Council, Babatunde Irukera, and the representatives of the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), MTN, Airtel, Glo and 9Mobile, among others.
Most of the stakeholders blamed insecurity, vandalism, community antagonism, multiple fiber cuts, double taxation and road construction works for the drop calls sometimes experienced by subscribers.
All the representatives of service providers in their presentation said that drop calls are not usually charged by the networks.