Nigeria: NATCOMS to Institute Legal Action against Telecoms Operators over QoS

Telecoms

The National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS) has chosen to take the last option of instituting court action against MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat, after all negotiations failed.

NATCOMS said it decided to seek legal regress in the law court, following the refusal of the telecoms operating companies to compensate subscribers for poor telecoms services they rendered to subscribers in the past 12 years, especially during the first and second quarters in 2013.

NATCOMS' President, Deolu Ogunbanjo, who informed ThisDay on the new development, said they have met with subscribers across the country and resolved to go to court to enforce the proposed compensation through legal means.

According to him, “We held a meeting on Monday this week and resolved to go to court. Our lawyers have been briefed and they are already preparing the papers that we will file in court on Thursday this week."

“Apart from asking the court to compel the operators to compensate subscribers, we are also pushing for a Consumer Management Process and Procedure law that will empower subscribers to demand for their rights when the need arises, and get immediate and adequate attention on any lawful demand,” Ogunbanjo said.

Differentiating the functions of the proposed Consumer Management Process and Procedure law from the functions of the existing Telecoms Consumer Parliament of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which also seeks to address telecoms consumer complaints, Ogunbanjo said what NATCOMS is proposing, would have legal backing, unlike the NCC organised Telecoms Consumer Parliament that is without legal backing.

“Enough is enough, and it is time for us to address our challenges and get immediate response from the authorities concerned, hence we are also presenting the proposed Consumer Management Process and Procedure law,” Ogunbanjo said.

Giving reasons why it had to go to court to press further its demand, the NATCOMS boss said they have tried to negotiate with telecoms operators over the issue, and had even written them letters and copied the NCC and the Ministry of Communications Technology, yet the operators were not willing to cooperate with the subscribers' umbrella body.

The renewed plan to go to court this week to seek legal redress may have been triggered by the recent announcement of MTN Ghana that it would begin compensation of telecoms subscribers in Ghana, for poor service quality.

A Ghanaian Newspaper quoted the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana,  Serame Taukobong, as saying “MTN is making plans to compensate subscribers affected by recent network disruptions.” An estimated 15 per cent of MTN Ghana’s subscribers in the capital of Accra suffered signal interruptions for weeks, and the company attributed the outage to an extensive ongoing modernisation and transformation of its systems.

According to MTN Ghana “During the process of modernisation, the network interface linked connection on the switch experienced intermittent errors resulting in the links failing. As a result, voice and data service delivery were affected, which made it difficult for subscribers to make and receive calls, as well as data and SMS."

The company reportedly faced a fine by Ghana telecoms regulator, the National Communication Authority (NCA) if it failed to submit a compensation plan.

In Nigeria, NATCOMS is demanding for compensation for poor service quality to the tune of N595 billion, covering all the 119 million subscribers across all networks, for various inconveniences they had suffered over poor service quality in the last 12 years.

The association is also demanding the payment of N5,000 to each telecoms subscriber, as compensation to the 119 million subscribers, totalling N595 billion.

Ogunbanjo said NATCOMS had on August 2, 2013, written a protest letter to the Association of Licensed Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), the umbrella body of all telecoms operating companies in the country and copied the NCC, but did not get response from any of the parties. NCC had however said it did not receive any letter from NATCOMS to that effect.