Etisalat Nigeria has dragged the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos for granting MTN a 30% call differential on MTN’s off-net and on-net voice mobile services – a development which is calculated to stifle competition in the industry, contrary to the NCC’s regulations.
According to Aanu Ogunro, counsel for Etisalat, “We have a motion ex parte for leave to ask for the judicial review of the decision of the first respondent,” he told Justice Mohammed Idris, as reported by Punch.
“The urgency in this matter, My Lord, is that the first respondent has made certain decisions that, if not urgently addressed, will affect the business of the applicant and it is capable of eroding the capital and the business of the applicant within a very short time,” Ogunro said.
Justice Idris granted that the court will hear the substantive suit on August 3, 2015.
Etisalat is asking the court to intervene through a judicial review of NCC’s approval for MTN to have a 30% differential between its off-net and on-net retail mobile voice tariffs – which allowed MTN to create a “calling club” which resulted in its “Family and Friends” promo.
According to Etisalat, MTN’s Family and Friends promo offers callers a rate of 11 kobo per second to eight MTN subscribers and two non-MTN subscribers – something that violate’s NCC’s regulations and poses a threat to business survival within the telecoms industry.
The NCC had conducted a study in 2012 and issued a directive on April 25, 2013 tagged “Determination of Dominance in Selected Communications Markets in Nigeria,” and yet MTN had a 300% differential between its on-net and off-net retail voice tariff in total disregard of the NCC’s regulation – while the NCC looked the other way – a development that spelt doom for competitors.
Etisalat said it wrote a letter dated April 14, 2015 to the NCC disclosing the violations of MTN in the ongoing business terrain and the impact of such development on the industry; but when the NCC would not yield to the complaint, then the next natural thing to do is to turn to the court for a judicial review of the matter at hand.