As Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operators scale down operations due to the harsh operating environment, telecommunications subscribers in the country may face poor quality of service.
This is coming against the backdrop of MTN sacking of some 280 workers and refusal by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to remove IT/Telecom equipment from list of restricted items in access to foreign exchange.
Funso Aina, MTN spokesperson, said the disengagement of the workers was part of an ongoing business transformation drive towards sustained growth and to facilitate the firm’s continued role as a partner for progress and socio-economic development in Nigeria.
Elsewhere, Mr. Olusola Teniola, president of Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), urged for the review of the CBN list, especially those items critical to the growth of the IT/telecoms sector of the economy.
Teniola, stated that the apex bank should, however, revisit the list of 41 items with a view to exempting a few, especially the IT/Telecoms items, considered critical to the sector.
The ATCON President, who was assessing the apex bank’s management of the forex crisis, said that the restrictions on a number of items has impacted expansions and other projects in the industry, thereby leading to poor quality of service (QoS).
He also said that their members have been discriminated against with regards the apex bank’s recent initiative that guarantees Small and medium enterprises window to $20,000 per quarter.
“We realized that even though the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has made some albatross in a direction to ensure SMEs are able to access foreign exchange (Forex), we discovered that our members in that category are not able to benefit from that intervention which introduced $20,000 per quarter. We are really disappointed. This should not be discriminately against our members,” he said.
The situation it was gathered is compounded by drop in the revenue stream of operators as a result of recent developments in the telecommunications landscape that saw the launch of Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) by ntel and Smile Communications.
David Venn, chief executive officer, Spectranet, a 4G LTE internet service provider, explained that the telecommunications landscape in the country is now changing from a voice centric to data centric source of revenue just as WhatsApp has almost eroded revenue that GSM operators are making from short message service (SMS).
“Operators need equipment to build towers. In the last one year it has been difficult for us to access dollar to import equipment for network expansion as well as adding capacity, the ones we are doing is from the equipment we imported before the new policy on FX, for big operators it has been very difficult for them to import equipment which has affected their efforts in adding capacity,” he said.