MTN hikes charges for bulk SMS, others

In an apparent move to re­coup some of the amount of the hefty fine of N1.04 trillion imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Mobile Telecommu­nications Company of Nigeria (MTN) has increased the cost of some of its services by as much as 40 per cent.
One of the most hard-hit of the services offered to subscribers by MTN is the bulk short mes­saging system (sms), investiga­tions by The AUTHORITY have revealed.
With effect from Monday 21st, 2016 (today) the cost of bulk sms services delivered by service providers has been jerked up to N2.20 per message, as against the previous price of N1.57 apiece.
‘’This is due to the emergency 40% increase from the operator (MTN). Other Network charges remain the same,’’ says one of the service providers while in­forming a client about the hike in charges taking effect from today.
Other bulk sms service pro­viders across the country are frantically alerting their clients about the hike in MTN charges – in order to avoid accusations of not giving the clients prior in­formation about the hike in their bills from today.
The charges of other major Nigerian telecommunications networks remain unchanged at the moment even when MTN is hiking its own charges.
An online medium reported that MTN increased its interna­tional calling charges early this month, with some rates climb­ing as much as 57%. There are reports that the other major tel­ecommunications networks in Nigeria are also considering hik­ing their charges. But MTN ap­parently beat them to it.
Information available to the AUTHORITY indicates that the increase in rates may the first of several steps by the South Afri­can telecommunication giant to raise money to pay off the huge fine which was imposed on it last year by the NCC over its failure to implement SIM deactivation directive.
One of the bulk SMS opera­tors who spoke to the AUTHOR­ITY last night explained that the foreign company which he is sub­scribed to informed him of the increase.
He said initially the cost was N1.70k per SMS but this was re­duced to N1.57k depending on the quantity purchased by a cus­tomer.
He explained further that the new increase which affects only bulk SMS services could be at a lower cost of N2 per SMS or 25 percent increase if a customer in­creases the volume of purchase.
“It is all about traffic”, he said, “the higher the quantity you buy the lower the unit price. But this particular increase is only on bulk SMS provided by MTN. Our foreign partner informed us of the increase which begins tomorrow”.
This is coming a few days af­ter the NCC lifted the ban on reg­ulatory services which it placed on MTN for several regulatory infractions. NCC says that the lifting of the suspension became necessary after reviewing MTN’s plea and considering the fact that it has stopped all the violations that led to the suspension of reg­ulatory services by the Commis­sion.
Reacting to inquiries by The AUTHORITY on the MTN in­crease on bulk sms, the Nigeri­an Communication Commis­sion said last night that it has no knowledge of the increase by MTN, as no customer has brought any complaints against MTN on the new charges.
An official of NCC who spoke on the condition of anonymity said until such a report or com­plaint was received by the com­mission nothing could be done.
He said any customer who feels that the new charges do not equate to the services provided by the operator is free to make an official report or complaint to NCC to trigger an investigation into the charge.
Efforts last night by our re­porter to reach MTN, Nige­ria’s leading telecommunica­tions company, proved abortive. Phone calls and text messages by our reporter to MTN were not re­sponded to at the time of filing this report.