Subscribers under the aegis of the Association of Telephone, Cable TV and Internet Subscribers have condemned plans to restrict Nigerians to three telephone lines.
This was in response to a directive issued last week by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, to Nigerian Communications Commission to revise the policy on SIM card registration and usage.
ATCIS, in a statement, described the move as unnecessary and anti-democratisation of telecoms access.
The National Chairman of the association, Shina Bilesanmi, said there were existing measures in place to ensure that telephone lines were used judiciously and in the interest of the digital access drive of the government and growth of the telecoms sector.
According to him, the interests of over 180 million subscribers in Nigeria should be the priority of any planned policy change by the government, adding that such change should be prompted by necessity.
He said it was important for the minister to consult with other stakeholders in the industry before taking such decisions.
Bilesanmi noted that restriction of Nigerians to a particular number of telephones lines would not reflect the reality in the market when the level of quality of service and individuals’ purposes for using many telephone lines were considered.
He said, “The minister has instructed the Nigerian Communications Commission to review policy on SIM registration and usage. This on its own is a good call. Regulating Nigerians on the number of telephone lines they can activate to their names for their personal and business use is, however, not one of the things we need now.
“The poor Quality of Service in Nigeria calls for a multiple SIM lifestyle. All our operators are still in the process of making their network available nationwide but they have not been able to achieve this even almost 20 years after the deregulation of the industry.
“In that case, subscribers who travel to various parts of the country will, out of necessity, always have various lines to ensure they remain connected wherever they are.
“The fact that telecoms consumers have also found telephone lines indispensable to their business operations can make a subscriber rely on more than three SIM cards being suggested by Pantami as maximum to run his business.
“According to a recent report by Global System for Mobile Communications Association, across sub-Saharan Africa, mobile-enabled platforms are increasingly becoming the modem for conducting e-commerce, and these platforms extend the reach of services and provide greater choice to customers. This kind of gains of the telecoms access can be eroded should we go by what the minster is suggesting.”