Telecommunications companies such as Globacom, Airtel, MTN, and others have vowed to raise charges unless the Federal Government resolves fundamental concerns affecting the business.
Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), spoke on behalf of the telecos at a news conference in Lagos on Thursday, giving the Federal Government seven days to respond.
The telecom business is currently beset by difficulties such as the seizure of cellular sites in Kogi, concerns about deteriorating service quality in Abuja, rising diesel prices, inflation, and the safety of telecom workers, according to Adebayo.
The chairman of ALTON claimed that all telecom operators had voiced concern about telecommunications facilities being shut down in Kogi State due to disagreements over taxes and levies imposed by the Kogi State Government through the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KIRS).
“The KIRS action was based on an ex parte court order obtained by the KIRS based on false allegations that our members are in default of state government tax payments (which is not the case) and that access to these important telecom sites has been restricted.”
“This issue is likely to lead to a total communications blackout in the entire Kogi State, parts of Abuja the Federal Capital Territory and possible impact on service availability in some parts of the following States: Nassarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, Niger States.
“These are States sharing borders with Kogi State’’, the ALTON’s chairman, who also doubles as the joint spokesman for all the telecom operators, said.
He also said the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), the office of the Director for Signage & Advertisement has refused to grant telecommunication service providers a permit to build infrastructure in the Federal Capital City.
This, he said, is affecting the quality of services around FCT and Abuja.
He said: “The problem is created by the governing authority in the FCT. Telecommunications services drive on the terrestrial infrastructure.
“We hereby call on the Federal Executive Council to prevail on the FCDA in granting approval/permit to our members to deploy infrastructure.
“ALTON and its members will no longer tolerate discriminatory charges against the sector. The industry is planning to begin a study on varying tariffs to some of the unfriendly telecommunications States in other to accommodate their demand’.”
ALTON also expressed concerns about the rising cost of diesel and its implications on the general high cost of business.
Adebayo said: “We are concerned that unless there is an intervention to save this sector, operators will have no choice but to begin a process of price review.
“The state of security in our country is of concern, while we commend all our security agencies for the work they do to keep us all safe, the impact of the general state of security in the country is that we are not able to provide 24/7 support in certain areas as it is unsafe to send out service personnel to some parts of the country and to other at certain times of the day.”