By Ogaga Ariemu
Among its activities lined up to mark 2023 World Consumer Rights Day, the Nigerian Communication Commission unveiled the Telecom Consumer Assistance, Resolution and Enquiries, TELCARE Desk at the arrival lounge of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The Executive Vice Chairman, EVC, Prof Umar Danbatta, disclosed this on Wednesday at the 2023 World Consumer Rights Day.
Danbatta, represented by the NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu, said the Commission is committed to ensuring the rights of Nigerians are protected in the telecoms sector.
According to him, the TELCARE desk in Abuja will be a pilot, assuring that the Commission plans to set up the desk at strategic locations across the country to provide information to telecom consumers.
The NCC boss noted that the TELCARE desk serves as an additional platform to receive and facilitate the resolution of consumer complaints, provide a means through which consumers and citizens can make inquiries on consumer issues, give a platform for advocacy on any thematic consumer issue or concerns; to further enhance awareness of the Commission’s activities.
Speaking further, Danbata noted that with the theme of 2023 World Consumer Rights Day tagged, ‘Empowering consumers through the clean energy transition,’ the Commission is affirming that the theme of this year will form part of the consideration of its regulatory mandate.
“The TELCARE Desk serves as an additional platform to receive and facilitate the resolution of consumer complaints; provide a means through which consumers and citizens can make inquiries on consumer issues; provide a platform for advocacy on any thematic consumer issue or concerns; to further enhance awareness of the Commission’s activities.”
The EVC noted that the Commission has carried out its mandate to strengthen consumer protection further while safeguarding the interest of telecom consumers.
He noted that in that period, in addition to continuing to implement the Policy that ensured improved access to broadband connectivity, the Commission, through Nigerian Communications Commission’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (NCC-CSIRT), constantly alerted consumers to cyber threats that could have led to the compromise of their financial profile through the execution of malicious codes by threat actors.
The Chief Executive Officer of NCC pointed out that by the time cashless banking entirely took off in late 2022, the connectivity platforms on which electronic transactions ride have become robust to the extent of being able to absorb the surge in demand for cashless transactions.
He said that this year’s theme is geared towards delivering a smooth transition for consumers experiencing a high cost of living as the globe responds to the ongoing energy crisis caused by supply and climate issues and is very relevant given Nigeria’s recent licensing of the 5G spectrum networks, which consume twice as much energy as 4Gs. However, they are more energy-efficient per gigabyte.
Speaking on increased demand for energy consumption, Danbatta said with the recent licensing of the 5G spectrum, Nigeria would witness an increased deployment of telecom infrastructure to satisfy the wireless service coverage requirement for 5G services.
He said this anticipated growth in the number of 5G coverage would trigger high demand for data services, which will result in increased energy consumption for the network infrastructure, especially the Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), Internet of Things (IoT), 5G Customer Premise Equipment (CPEs) and mobile devices for example.
“This requires the industry to look for green and sustainable power solutions required for the connectivity of IoT devices and network optimization,” he said.
“All over the globe, telecom companies are among the most significant energy users due to the stiff industry competition, which causes them to try to satisfy their consumers by providing higher-speed networks. With the rising utility costs, companies must reconsider the sustainability of their operations by lowering the operational impact on the environment. This is more so because it has been found that implementing energy efficiency measures could reduce the operating costs of telcos by up to 20 per cent.
“Some of these energy-efficiency measures include the redesign of the Radio Access Networks (RAN) of Base Stations, which were initially built to maximize connectivity, not energy efficiency.
“More than 75 per cent of the time, the radio base station resources remain unused because of the hardware components activated at all times to transmit system information and synchronization and reference signals. Therefore, to avoid waste heat, some of 5 G’s newest RAN is equipped with an energy-saving measure allowing for the automatic switching of components. Some other energy efficiency measures can also include using renewable energy sources (hydrogen, wind, solar etc.) to supply the energy needed.”
On renewable energy, he said the Commission, as a responsive world-class organization, has been proactive in responding to the realities and challenges posed by the impact of using fossil fuel as a power source in the telecommunications industry. In this regard, the situation in Nigeria is peculiar.
“Owing to the overall energy challenges of the nation, the fifty-four (54) thousand BTS scattered across the country depend on diesel generators with the attendant noise and environmental pollution,” he said.
“Some of these BTS operate on diesel generators for 24 hours across seven days of the week in some locations. Therefore, transitioning to a renewable energy source like solar power will significantly reduce the menace of pollution from individually-powered generators. This will be zero carbon emission from the BTS, just as noise pollution would be a thing of the past.