MTN have had the regulatory suspension placed on them by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) lifted yesterday. The Johannesburg based telecoms provider was suspended from reviewing their tariffs in October 2015 in relation to their default in the deactivation o of 5.2 million incomplete subscriber identification module (SIM) cards on its network.
In a statement released yesterday, MTN said “The NCC has lifted the suspension on regulatory services to MTN Nigeria,”
The move allows Africa’s biggest wireless operator to seek approvals for promotions and other plans to grow in the company’s biggest market,”
It has come as a relief to MTN which has been making efforts to resolve the N780 billion fine placed on it. NCC had sanctioned MTN Nigeria for accumulating over 28 separate and proven infractions.
MTN, the largest telecommunications company in Nigeria, had initially introduced a new tariff plan in May 2015, leading to sanctions from NCC.
The NCC, in May 2015, claimed that MTN had no approval of the regulatory authority before embarking on the new tariff plan, which charged a daily access fee of N5, while allowing subscribers to call all networks at 11k/sec and N20k/sec to UK, USA, India, Canada and China.
NCC said MTN contravened Section 108 (1) of the Nigeria Communications Act 2003, and directed the telco to “immediately discontinue this Tariff Plan and all associated advertisements”.
In the NCC quarterly compliance enforcement report for Q2 2015, out of the six sanctions imposed on operators for various acts on non-compliance, MTN was involved and sanctioned for four separate infractions, the NCC document stated.
Other infractions committed include non-compliance of MTN with the restriction on promotions imposed on mobile operators on November 8, 2012 in an effort to address persistent Quality of Service issues within the industry; failure to comply with NCC’s Determination of Dominance 2013; violation of pricing obligations under the 2013 Dominance Determination for MTN Virtual Top Up plus.
NCC went on to fine MTN Nigeria N1.04 trillion ($5.2bn) which was later reduced by 25 per cent to $3.9 billion (N780 billion) in December last year. MTN sought a softer stance from the NCC, vowing to not flout any future directives made by the regulatory body.
MTN in February issued a profit warning that it expects about 20 per cent profit decline from its Nigerian operation. MTN had on March 5, 2015, stated, in its full year 2015 financial results, that its Nigerian operation in particular experienced a very challenging year, and that weak economic conditions and the limited availability of US dollars contributed to a lower-than-expected performance.
On 24 February, MTN Nigeria made a without prejudice good faith payment of N50 billion ($250 million) to the Federal Government of Nigeria in relation to the NCC fine relating to the late disconnection of subscribers, on the basis that this would be applied towards a settlement.
MTN Nigeria also agreed to withdraw the matter from the Federal High Court while negotiations with the regulatory authorities are ongoing.
And now the Network Operator finally have the opportunity to review tariff plans and raise or reduce as they wish with the lifting of their suspension by the NCC