The Monster Called MTN By David Adeniyi
In August 2001, during the era of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigerians jubilated when his administration launched the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) with the hope that it would help to formally initiate the country, into the global village.
Yes, one can conveniently say that the main goals of GSM had been largely achieved. Today, most of our urban cities now enjoy internet connection; but not without challenges to the development of quality ICT in Nigeria. No thanks to the poor services rendered by the major network service providers, namely MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat to their subscribers. Globacom is the only indigenous telecoms operator amongst them.
Very often, subscribers face series of challenges in the hands of these telecom operators ranging from epileptic and frustrating internet services, exorbitant rate of drop calls, poor network coverage, unnecessary charges, lack of qualified customer care staffers.
In saner climes where they have functional democracies, these network service providers would have had their licenses of operation revoked a long time ago.
No! Not in a country like Nigeria where impunity reigns supreme and ineptitude has become the order of the day. Ours is a nation where government feels unconcerned about the welfare of the people it governs. Ours is a country where those in the public and private companies steal the already economically-battered citizen’s blind. Ours is a country where rather than our lawmakers feel much more concerned about their constituents, they are busy piling up what is supposedly our collective wealth for their great grand children.
In spite of the fact that most of these telecoms operators focus on the urban centres and neglect the hinterlands or rural areas, none of them can still boast of effective, efficient and reliable internet services. One can hardly make a minute call without experiencing any bad signal interference. These telecoms operators launched their 3.75G services at different points in time, but having quality and reliable internet services still remain a pipe dream.
Quite often, subscribers are left with little or no option but to combine different networks or continue to endure these gigantic telecoms operators even with bad and dwarfish business practices till thy kingdom come.
There is no gainsaying that internet plays a crucial role in globalisation and socio-economic development of a nation, and Nigeria cannot be an exemption. But unreliable internet connection from the network service providers in major cities of Nigeria has made the use of internet services very frustrating and extremely disturbing. I make bold to say that MTN is the most culpable of them all. MTN is the worst telecoms operator in Nigeria when it comes to poor service delivery.
Instead of strengthening and improving its network services to make it more reliable, MTN has kept on expanding its subscribers. Presently, MTN appears to have the largest number of subscribers,yet it has failed to improve its services to satisfy its numerous customers.
Rather, MTN has continued to extort and cajole its customers with unimaginable promos like “Win an Aeroplane”. Just one of the tricks employed by MTN and other network service providers to extort their subscribers.
Of recent, I had my own share of harrowing experiences which subscribers are subjected to on a daily basis. MTN, a network I have been using for almost 10 years. My monthly subscription was to expire four days time, but to my utmost amazement MTN disconnected my internet service before the expiry date. I called the customer care center but all to no avail. This is just one frustrating moment out of many that subscribers face daily in Nigeria.
Many people have lost good businesses, lives, properties and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to poor network services.
The questions are: Do these telecoms operators feel for their customers or for their own gains or returns? Do they bother about their customers’ predicaments? Do they worry about the sufferings and pains they cause to their subscribers? Are their actions or inactions fair to all subscribers? Is the NCC- Nigerian Communication Commission effective in its statutory duty of controlling and regulating these telecoms operators? Has there been any strategic mechanism or practical step to stem the tide? Do the MTN and other telecoms operators in Nigeria feel bothered about the pains, loss of money, loss of man hours, loss of lives, frustrations that they subjected their subscribers to? When will this network problem be nipped in the bud?
We cannot just continue to bemoan our problems. Something has to be done. I know the NCC is trying but more grounds still need to be covered. Recently, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) fined MTN for poor network service delivery to serve as a deterrent to others. In spite of the fact that NCC had set certain standards for these network service providers to meet up with to improve their services. Still, many of them have been failing to meet these required standards.
A few months ago, a slight relief came when the NCC announced that it would launch a Mobile Number Portability Service that will make it easy for subscribers to switch over to another network without losing their original mobile number. Even though this is a good initiative, the process of number portability from one network to another seems to be cumbersome for customers to cope with.
The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) on Wednesday April 17, 2013 said Airtel Nigeria Limited met all targets in Key Performance Indicator (KPI) measurements on all telecommunication network operators in the country. Again, the company has also been given the Most Innovative Telecoms operator Award for the year. This is good news but the company should put in more efforts in extending its coverage to remote areas because many villages are yet to enjoy full internet coverage of the network.
The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) should try to make number portability less cumbersome for customers. I suggest this number portability is done via online and probably, sensitize people on radio and TV on how to go about the process. Most rural dwellers lack proximity to these mobile service providers’ offices which are largely concentrated in the cities. This will pose a challenge to them when trying to do the number portability.
The NCC should also formulate a policy that will ensure that all telecoms operators provide reliable and quality internet services in offices, banks, schools and households to enhance the educational and socio-economic development of Nigerian people.
Telecoms operators should employ and educate qualified customer care agents to be more friendly and warm to their subscribers. They should be made to provide 24 hours online customer care services to the customers.
The NCC should also put in more efforts to monitor and regulate the quality of network services provided by all the network service providers in Nigeria.
I hope if all of these aforementioned above can be put in place, poor internet service delivery will be reduced to the lowest ebb, if not totally eradicated.
I am @realmyunicy on Twitter.
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