The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that issue of data depletion being experienced by telecommunications subscribers is attributable to several factors, which can be categorized as technical and non-technical.  

The Commission’s Director of Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Engr. Edoyemi Ogoh, who gave the explanation during the 91st Telecoms Consumer Parliament (TCP) organized by the Commission, said technically, most browsers play videos by default even when the user only opened a site to read text.  

He also cited automatic updates of apps and automatic uploads of videos and pictures to the cloud on smartphones as other factors that drain data quietly. Other technical factors, according to him, include the increase in internet speed due to migration to 4G, which automatically plays video in high-quality formats, thus consuming more data.  

Non-technical factors: Ogoh said data is being depleted by other factors, which are non-technical and these include: 

  • The low purchasing power of subscribers leads to the purchase of small bundle sizes with short periods of use leading to an increased frequency of data depletion complaints. 
  • Growth of social media, online advertisements and default audio-visual activations in web browsers and apps 
  • Lack of consumer awareness and education 
  • Use of sub-standard and fake subscriber devices 
  • Expiry of data bundle usage timeline before data bundle exhaustion 

Data Depletion occurs when a subscriber exhausts his or her data bundle before the expiration date or when more than volume is utilised for accessing online content greater than what the subscriber believes it should be or what it ought to be.  

Increasing complaints: Speaking earlier, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, s data depletion was one of the most prevalent complaints received from telecom consumers in the country. He noted that most of the complaints come as a result of the consumers’ recent migration to 4G/LTE technology. 

  • “It is, therefore, important that we completely appreciate and understand the issues surrounding data depletion, its usage, and consumption in the era of 4G technology before we fully commence 5G usage. It is against this backdrop that the Commission invited the key industry players today to dialogue on the theme. 
  • “As much as the commission has an obligation to the telecom consumer, it also has an obligation to the Industry; a symbiotic relationship in which one party cannot survive without the other. 
  • “The consumers are the basis for the operators’ business; if their interests are ignored, the operators’ investments would collapse, and there would be no industry for the Commission to regulate,” the EVC said. 

The TCP, which had in attendance executives of telecom companies in Nigeria and subscribers was themed: “Data Depletion: Discussions on Various Perspectives.” It was organized by the NCC to understand the various perspectives on the prevalent issue, identify the possible causes, and brainstorm on the way forward.