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Subscribers Grumble Over Data Depletion Rate

NCC Boss Maida

Rising operating costs due to Nigeria’s struggling economy might have forced the country’s telecom operators to reduce the value of data they sell to subscribers.

Though the telcos are yet to increase their tariffs despite a 43 % rise in cost of doing business in the industry, the big four operators might have slashed the value of their data going by the pace by which data subscription drains.

It was gathered that a N2,000 data bundle by an average internet user now gets depleted within three to five days.

This could last between three weeks and four weeks before the economy went into the struggling mode.

Complaints by data users of data depletion have now become common on various platforms on social media and even offline.

Bilal Miftahudeen, a lawyer, told Daily Trust that before the rising costs of goods and services became a daily affair, he used to subscribe to an operator’s N2,000 data bundle and that would take him close to one month even with heavy download of documents.

“But at the moment, I noticed that my N2,000 subscription now lasts me for four to five days”, Miftahudeen said.

The Lagos based legal practitioner said many of his colleagues had similar complaints and called on the federal government to do something to address the issue.

Similarly, Adebola Jacob, a trader, said he had decided to suspend data subscription for now as it is eating deep into his earnings. “I only subscribe when I have urgent and very important things to do online, things that would fetch more than the money I put into the subscription”, Jacob told Daily Trust.

Many other data users also had the same story about fast data depletion. Though they said the economy might have forced the telcos to reduce data value, they appealed to the government to address the issue.

Telcos keep mute

But the telecom service providers are silent over the development. The Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) Gbenga Adebayo who is the official spokesman for all the operators did not respond to questions sent to him.

NCC explains data depletion

But the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that the issue of data depletion being experienced by telecommunications subscribers is attributable to several factors, which can be categorised as technical and nontechnical.

The Commission, in a statement recently said, technically, most browsers play videos by default even when the user only opens a site to read text.

It also cited automatic updates of apps and automatic uploads of videos and pictures to the cloud on smartphones as other factors that drain data quietly.

Other technical factors, according to NCC, include the increase in internet speed due to migration to 4G, which automatically plays video in high-quality formats, thus consuming more data.

NCC said data is also being depleted by other factors, which are non-technical and these include: the low purchasing power of subscribers, which leads to the purchase of small bundle sizes with short periods of use leading to an increased frequency of data depletion complaints.

Others are growth of social media, online advertisements and default audio-visual activations in web browsers and apps; lack of consumer awareness and education and use of sub-standard and fake subscriber devices.

The Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo however tasked the government to introduce a special forex market for the telecom industry.

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