The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Wednesday announced the immediate suspension of the new minimum pricing template for data services by mobile operators.
According to the NCC, the decision is as a result of the outrage that followed the announcement of the planned price hike.
In a statement by its Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo, NCC said: “Following the concerns that visited the directive to introduce price floor for data segment of the telecommunications sector beginning from December 1, 2016, the Nigerian Communications Commission has suspended any further action in that direction,”
“The decision to suspend this directive was taken after due consultation with industry stakeholders and the general complaints by Consumers across the country.
“The commission has weighed all of this and consequently asked all operators to maintain the status quo until the conclusion of study to determine retail prices for broadband and data services in Nigeria.”
The commission explained that its decision to choose a price floor for data was aimed a promoting a level playing field for all operators in the industry and encourage small operators and new entrants.
Noting that there had been a price floor of N3.11k/MB in 2014 which was removed in 2015, it said the proposed price floor to take place on December 1, 2016 was 90k/MB.
It added, “In taking that decision, the smaller operators were exempted from the new price regime, by virtue of their small market share. The decision on the price floor was taken in order to protect the consumers who are at the receiving end and save the smaller operators from predatory services that are likely to suffocate them and push them into extinction.
“The price floor is not an increase in price but a regulatory safeguard put in place by the telecommunications regulator to check anti-competitive practices by dominant operators.”
This is coming a few hours after the Senate ordered a stop to the planned increase.
Senate President Bukola Saraki on Wednesday tweeted: "#NoDataHike @NgrSenate we condemned proposed increase of data tariffs by Service Providers, in line with the directive of @NgComCommission"
"At a time when cost of living has gone up, due to inflation being at 18.3%. @NgComCommission action without consultation is unacceptable."
"I have seen power of internet and how it serves to give a voice to voiceless, and a platform for millions to air their views. #NoToDataHike"
"This is why @Ngrsenate will continue to maintain that access to the internet remains affordable for all Nigerians and #NoToDataPriceHike"
In a letter sent to telcos, the NCC had claimed the price increase was necessary “in order to provide a level playing field for all operators in the industry.”
The new rate was scheduled to take effect from December 1.