Upholding quality of service in Nigeria’s communications sector

The Nigerian telecommunications sector has undergone a remarkable transformation, evolving from a modest network of fewer than 500,000 connected lines to a staggering 200 million over two decades. This growth serves as a testament to the country’s progress in the realm of connectivity and economic development.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), continues to play a pivotal role as the regulator, placing paramount importance on ensuring the Quality of Service (QoS). It is sad to note that QoS was an issue at the beginning. By beginning, we are talking of the licensing of GSM operators and commencement of service in 2001 (for convenience we’ll ignore the NITEL years). QoS is still an issue today.

QoS, in essence, encapsulates a comprehensive set of measures and standards aimed at delivering consistent and top-notch telecommunications services to end-users. It’s not just about providing connectivity; it’s about ensuring reliability, network performance, data speed, and an overall seamless user experience.

The significance of QoS cannot be overstated. For consumers, it means experiencing uninterrupted connectivity, swift access to information, and seamless communication. Meeting these expectations directly influences customer satisfaction and loyalty. Beyond consumers, businesses benefit immensely from superior QoS, gaining a competitive edge, retaining customers, and building a positive brand reputation. Conversely, subpar QoS can lead to customer dissatisfaction and loss, affecting both consumers and businesses alike.

Achieving superior QoS hinges on several key strategies. Continuous investment in robust infrastructure forms the backbone, ensuring reliable connections and network expansion. So far, over $76 billion has been invested in the sector in over 20 years. With the country’s landmass and huge population, it is crystal that much more investment is required to boost QoS.

In addition, embracing cutting-edge technologies like 5G, AI, and IoT can further enhance speed, capacity, and network efficiency. Fortunately, operators are already working in these spheres.

The regulatory, NCC has a critical role to play in setting and enforcing QoS standards, ensuring service providers maintain a certain quality level. Experts concede that the regulator is doing what it can. It evidently is not enough.

So today, despite best efforts, challenges persist. Take network congestion. Network congestion during peak times poses a significant hurdle, necessitating innovative solutions like load balancing and network optimization.

Moreover, stringent security measures are essential to protect against cyber threats and safeguard user privacy, both integral components of reliable services.

There is also an urgent need for the protection of physical infrastructure and equipment. It is time to heed calls to classify telecommunications infrastructure across the country, as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI). Telecommunications today are an indispensable asset in the quest for national development and economic growth, infrastructure that supports the provision of service must be kept safe.

Moving forward, collaboration among telcos, regulators, and tech providers is vital to setting and achieving QoS benchmarks while fostering innovation. Continuous evaluation, feedback mechanisms, and adaptation to emerging technologies are crucial in meeting evolving consumer needs.

In addition, establishing transparent reporting mechanisms and holding stakeholders accountable further enhances trust among consumers and regulators.

It is equally important to make it easier for operators to lay cables and connect our communities. The era of unbridled quest to rip off telcos in the name of “right of way” fees by state governors must stop. Telecommunications infrastructure benefits all of us, providing connections that enable socio-economic transformation. It improves the quality of life of citizens.

To the NCC, I will say this, the commitment to QoS should be more than a mere directive; it should be viewed for what it is – a fundamental necessity. The new Executive Vice Chairman, (EVC), of the NCC, Dr. Aminu Maida, must take this to heart.

Undoubtedly, upholding high standards in telecommunications benefits consumers, businesses, and the industry at large. As technology advances and demands evolve, the pursuit of superior QoS remains crucial. It’s imperative to prioritize and elevate the quality of telecommunications services, and this endeavour requires a collective effort from all stakeholders.

After all, the purpose of a product or service is utility – the satisfaction it brings to the consumer.

Eromosele, a corporate communication professional and public affairs analyst, writes via [email protected]

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