The Association of Telephone, Cable TV and Internet Subscribers (ATCIS) has called on telecommunications companies in Nigeria to reduce tariffs for voice and data services on their networks in the light of the current disruption triggered by coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
The masses consumer advocacy body stressed that now that most companies have resorted to remote operations and people are dealing with movement restrictions, everyone is left with voice calls, small messaging service (SMS) and data services to keep up with daily business trends and social realities.
In a statement signed by the National President of ATCIS, Prince Sina Bilesanmi, urged the operators to be patriotic and not exploit the disruption caused by the pandemic as an opportunity to rake in easy money.
He said, “With self-isolation, and with federal government directive that many institutions be closed as well as curfew in some states to ensure that the spread of the virus is curtailed, this will naturally lead to change in consumer behavior. These changes are reflected in the uptake in the usage of collaborative tools to communicate, to do business and work from home as well as e-learning starting from primary, secondary to tertiary institutions.
“However, the situation at hand is a very delicate one and the only way we can have a breakthrough is by prioritising patriotism above personal gains and gratifications. Everyone is caught almost unprepared by COVID-19, therefore forcing us to abandon our places of works and start working from home.
“We cannot do this unless we have access to telecommunications services for voice and data. This may appear a good time for our mobile network operators (MNOs) to rake in more money as rate of spending on voice and data multiplies, it should, however, not be seen in this manner.
“Our telecoms service providers, especially, MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9Mobile, and others should see this time as an opportunity for them to further exhibit their value as responsible corporate citizens by slashing tariffs on calls and data bundles. Good name is better than riches some times and now is just one of such times.”
Bilesanmi also explained that at this point, people rely on data or telecoms services generally to obtain necessary information about the pandemic, especially regarding prevention tips and necessary steps to take in the event of suspected cases.
“Affordable access, undoubtedly, will connect the people to our responders including police, fire service, health workers, and so on. We, therefore, call on the operators to support the fight against the deadly virus by cutting tariffs or create special bundles for subscribers to lessen the negative economic impacts of Covid-19 on individuals,” Bilesanmi added.
Bilesanmi, further called for collaborations between the customers and telecoms operators, adding that if the virus must be defeated, access to telecoms services must not only be available but also affordable.