I have written previously about the importance of the internet to the development of FOSS in Nigeria. Even though the current rate of accessing the internet in the country is very expensive compared to what is obtainable in other parts of the world. Last week the Nigerian communication commission (NCC) – the regulatory agency responsible for the oversight of , among other things, internet communications in the country – mandated the internet service providers/telecoms companies (what I call the Big-5) to in crease internet data tariffs across board. Starting from the December 1. Almost immediately the telecoms companies started alerting their subscribers about the intended change – I got an SMS too. But it was outrageous and something fishy about the whole arrangement for various reasons considering the fact that the cost of accessing the internet was already expensive across the country.
The reason the NCC gave for giving the directive to the five big telecoms operators in the country to increase their data tariffs is to allow small operators and new entrants acquire market share and operate profitably. The question then is when is it the duty of NCC to fix and increase price for data – are they not supposed to be on the other side, mandating a reduction of data price. Are they not suppose to represent the interest of the people? If the Big-5 have not seen any reason to increase tariff why would the NCC now be blowing the loudest whistle?
Secondly, anybody that is intending to venture into the ISP business should be aware with the business risks and all the hassles relating to the industry. To increase data price because of the fact that there are new entrants is nothing but lame. The new entrant should be able to develop strategies to compete freely on a level playing field. And increasing the data tariff is not a way of providing a level playing in any way since some would be more favoured and than others.
Any way thank the heavens the Nigerian senate came the rescue of the good people of Nigeria to avert this destruction of internet freedom. The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has, Wednesday, suspended this planned data tariff increase. This is following the Senate order to halt the increment as well as the public outcry that greeted the planned action. so NCC announced the immediate suspension of the new minimum pricing template for data services by mobile operators saying the decision is to allow for further consultation. Nonsense! The minister of communications even came out to wash his hands out of the mud play by saying he was never aware of the planning and enforcement of the planned increase. Who is deceiving who?
Long story short, the freedom of the people have been vindicated!
The cheaper the internet the better our tech industry and the best for the free and open source software society.