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NCC pegs SMS tariff at N4

By The Citizen
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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has set a new tariff cap of N4 per Short Messaging Service (SMS) for all domestic off-net SMS with effect from February 5, 2013.

NCC, which said it will not place a price cap on international SMS for now, disclosed that the directive to this effect had been communicated to all the operators including MTN Nigeria, Globacom, Airtel and emerging market telecommunications service, operating as Etisalat in Nigeria since January 3, 2013.

The Code Division Multiple Access operators including Starcomms, Visafone and Multi Links are also affected by the new directive.

Off-net SMS is message sent from one network to another, like from MTN to Etisalat.

The directive, which was signed by the Director, Legal and Regulatory Services of NCC, Josephine Amuwa, issued yesterday, said the NCC arrived at the new price cap after due considerations of the submissions made by the operators at various consultative meetings.

Amuwa said having evaluated and analysed SMS traffic information provided by the operators, the Commission noted that 'there was a general recognition that the cost of SMS is too high, especially in view of the interconnection rate of N1.02 for SMS as determined by the Commission in 2009.'

She also noted that the operators had proposed a price cap ranging between N5 and N10 per message for off-net SMS.

According to her, the operators also urged the commission not to set a cap for international SMS due to the fact that interconnect rates for international SMS were outside their control as it is terminated through international carrier service providers in various jurisdictions.

Indeed, Amuwa said that the commission took the decision based on these considerations, and in the interest of striking a balance between sustaining operator's profitability and ensuring consumer satisfaction, and also in accordance with its powers as conferred on the commission under Sections 4 and Chapter VII of the NCC Act, 2003.

Currently, off-net SMS tariff ranges between N9 and N10, while on-net goes for N5 within same network.