In response to negative reactions, the telecom regulator has instructed operators to maintain present prices.
In a press release signed by Tony Ojobo, Director of Public Affairs at the NCC, the apex regulator states "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 (NCC) has suspended any further action in that direction".
Since news of the proposed increase broke, data subscribers and the general public have responded with anger and disbelief at a decision that seemed to be a step backwards at best. Almost everyone has offered an explanation for the decision, including claims that it was a ploy by the government to restrict access to information.
While acknowledging these rumours, the regulator states that "The decision to have a price floor was primarily to promote a level playing field for all operators in the industry, encourage small operators and new entrants".
The statement adds that "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."
While the reversion of the directive is completely welcome, the reasons given for taking the decision in the first place leave much to be desired, especially considering that consumers would have borne the brunt of the price increase.
We also noticed that the suspension will last "until the conclusion of study to determine retail prices for broadband and data services in Nigeria". Somehow, we have a feeling this is not the end of this latest episode of "When Nigeria tries to kill Nigerians".