Subscribers groan under punitive data cost

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The liberalisation of the telecoms space has transformed the national economy. Its infrastructurehave become enablers to other sectors thus breaking barriers to budiness. LUCAS AJANAKU however, reports that punitive data cost has become a pain in the groins of subscribers.

Few years ago, when Praise Jadesola, a student, got her mobile line, little did she know that the cost of running her data would pose a daunting challenge.

“When I got my smartphone, my monthly subscription was N1000. That will give me 1gig and some megabytes of data. Since I don’t watch videos or download pictures, it takes me through the month.

“But the story has since changed. That same cash that I used for subscribing for one month hardly lasts for one day. I have called my service provider for explanation only to be told ghost stories,” she lamented.

Another subscriber, Soji Suyi, an engineer, said when he got tired of spending N2000 every two days, a friend advised him to do the N3, 500 subscription that would give him 10gig, among other promises.

” I raised the cash and subscribed. I don’t like watching videos, so essentially, what I do are checking my social media accounts and reading newspapers online. To my utmost shock, the original daily gigs disappeared after one week. I was left with other night stuffs. And I wonder if at my age, I would hang around between 11pm and 6am to browse the net,” he said.

According to him, the data bundle offerings of the telcos remain as shrouded as an average subscriber just get whatever he is given by the operator.

” I doubt if the telcos keep their promises. The regulator must beam its searchlight of consumer protection on the area of data services. It has done well in voice regulation,” Suyi said.

Jadesola and Suyi are but few subscribers suffering in silence over punitive data cost in the country.

This development is perhaps not lost on the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), which said lower data cost would facilitate virtual learning.

It’s board Chairman, Prof. Adeolu Akande, who delivered a lecture in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, said cost reduction would aid e-learning in the country.

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Speaking on:“Religion, Education and National Development” at the Foundation Day ceremony of Precious Corner Stone University, Ibadan, he said e-learning has become part of the new normal, no thanks to COVID-19 pandemic.

Prof Akande said the provision of broadband infrastructure by the Federal Government is one step to achieving lower data cost.

“We have improved the backbone infrastructure like INFRACO, and licensing of private organisations to provide broadband infrastructure across the country.

“The more the availability of these infrastructure, the more the prices of data will keep crashing. As soon as most of these initiatives  mature, the price of data will reduce to the bearest minimum.”

The General Manager, EduTech, Olufemi Shonubi, whose firm is at the vanguard of e-Learning in the country, acknowledges the cost challenge. The firm which has partnered the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, to produce graduates via its e-learning platform, said to reduce data punitive data cost, learners could access learning materials offline too. Also, through its EduCollect, it’s able to provide soft loans to students to finance their education.

A vibrant consumer advocacy group is required to rescue data users in the country.

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