THE EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES FOR MARKETING TELEPHONE SERVICES WITH PARTICULAR FOCUS ON NITEL PLC OPERATIONS IN ENUGU METROPOLIS.
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1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Prior to independence, the provision of telecommunications facilities in this country was restricted mainly to government businesses, for enforcement of law and order and administration of the country together with a few ones of commercial and industrial purposes. The telephone network consisted of about 121 (one hundred and twenty one) telephone exchanges of which 116 (one hundred and sixteen) were magnetic/manual telephone exchange and the remaining 5 (five) were automatic, located at Lagos Island Ikeja Ebute-Matta, Apapa and Port-Harcourt. The total number of telephone lines in 1960 was 18,724 (eighteen thousand, seven hundred and twenty four) with a population of about 45 million in the country representing a telephone density of 0.4 telephone per 1000 population. After independence, the need for telephone facilities was no longer restricted to government functionaries as the development of trade, commerce industries and private enterprises commenced at a fast rate and these required efficient telephone services.
However, the government realizing this, appointed a team of experts from overseas, to carry out along-term telephone study of the country’s future requirement. The report of the experts recommended a fiver year development plan (1963-1968) to provide the following facilities:
(a) Building of a new long distance radio route connecting Lagos, Ibadan, Benin, Enugu and Port-Harcourt.
(b) Provision of large capacity cross bar exchanges at Lagos mainland (7000 lines), Ikeja conduct, 298 concrete conduct or feet cable wire for local subscribers network, exchange buildings with associated air conditioning plants.
(c) Construction of radio routes to link 23 urban centres including Ibadan, Kaduna, Sokoto, kano, Jos, Maiduguri, Warri and Calabar.
(d) Installation of new telephone exchanges at 5 (five) urban centres and 19 tones together with associated subscriber cable network.
(e) Expansion of the existing step by step switching equipment at Ibadan, Shogho, Akure, Illorin, Kaduna, Kano, and Jos by a total of about 8,00 lines.
(f) Provision of subscribers’ trunk dialing (S.T.D) at main urban centres.
(g) Construction of landline routes from main urban centres to 110 rural locations and replacement of manual exchanges by low capacity automatic exchanges at these locations.
Under this plan, a total number of 100,000 telephones were to be installed besides other improvements listed above. Due to nation’s crisis (1966-1969), the implementation of the programme was largely interrupted and in-fact completely suspended in the Eastern sector of the country. As such 20,000 lines only were added up to 1966. At the end of Nigeria civil war, the status of first years P and T plan (1963-1968) was reviewed and the second National Development plan (1970-1974) was launched in 1970. It was then decided by the government to improve the existing telecommunications facilities by marginal investment in major urban and industrial areas, gradually extend telephone facilities to rural areas where they were non-existent and restore communication system in war affected areas. The second National Development as such consisted of
– Spillover of projects in the first five years plan.
– Cable work in areas omitted during planning stages of the first five year plan construction of 73 new automatic exchanges with a capacity of about 72,000 lines.
– Expansion of cable network associated with new automatic exchanges.
– Construction of few radios telephone links.
– Provision of coaxial cable, Lagos, Ibadan, Illorin and Kaduna. Due to financial constraints and other factors, projects under the second National plan were not executed during the plan period and a number of these projects were carried forward for implementation under the third National plan 91975-1980). In 1974, the total number of working subscribers’ lines in the country was approximately 52,000.
Up to 1972, a few telephone coin boxes were installed but these were recovered due to the change into a new decimal coinage system.
Attempt was made to modify the coin boxes but without any satisfactory result.
The telephone network was increased from 52,000 lines in 1975 to total of 54,702 lines as at December 1976. In the network, manual telephone services were being provided in 407 locations. This level of services represented a telephone density of one per 1000 population, approximately which was one of the lowest in the world.
The department had in the late 1970’s decided to re-introduce modern public coin telephone instruments throughout the federation for the convenience of the public 3,000 coin telephone instruments were already on order as part of the third National Development Plan these would be progressively installed during the plan period.
SHORT TERM PLAN
In order to correct the sub-standard signaling systems of the existing telephone network and other problems of inadequately and overloading which had rendered telephone service very intolerable, government in 1974 was urged and it accepted to install a new separate system of international standard to cover area in the country being served by the existing equipment and which were then S.T.D services.
In addition, areas in the than 5 eastern states in which telephone service had been interrupted by the civil war were selected for a quick development under a short-term arrangement known as the contingency plan.
This was authorized in March 1975 with a capacity of 76,000 lines. The difficulties of connecting the existing system to new one persisted until July 1976 and because of the difficulties and creation of new states, the capacity of the contingency plan was increased to 167,000 lines. On commissioning of the contingency plan in 1977, the telephone density in the country became approximately 3 per 1000 population.
(a) TELEPHONE EXCHANGE: the plan provide installation and commissioning of 45 NITEL telephone exchanges and 33 mobile exchanges with modern cross bar switches either as replacement of worn equipment or as expansion of the existing system.
(b) LOCAL CABLE NETWORK: it was planned to provide new cable layout at the 44 locations, on cabinet/pillar system using fully filled cables inducts and also restricting the use of overhead cables sizes to a minimum of 200 pairs. The cabinet/pillar system provided the much needed case and flexibility of operation. The jelly in filled cables prevented ingress of moisture into the cable thereby eliminating the use of pressurization equipment. The restriction on the use of large size aerial cable reduced fault liabilities and simplified their maintenance. Rehabilitation of the existing cable network was being undertaken in such areas where there could be made serviceable.
(c) TRUNK COMMUNICATION: The existing terrestrial microwave system was expanded to provide additional trunk channels to link the 44 new telephone centres in addition, the existing open wire system were being replaced by modern radio system this eliminating the hazards of wire thefts and also improving the availability of reliable truck service. The plan also builds the much needed security into transmission network by introducing alternative routes on main trunk routes.
(d) SUPPLY OF SPARE PARTS: While efforts a foot to introduce progressive local manufacture of telephone equipment in use, government had ad-interim, reviewed its policy to extend guarantee for supply of spare by the supplier of original equipment for a minimum period of 5 years. This would ensure regular supply of spare parts for at least the first five years of installation of the equipment when it would be further reviewed on prevailing condition of local supply.
(e) HUMAN FACTORS: To minimize delaying in answering calls and giving up to date information to customers the operating staff were restrained or the manipulation of the new equipment installed under the contingency plan. While intensive training of maintenance was being arranged to the extend feasible with limited availability of manpower, maintenance assistance service contracts were being awarded to enable proper maintenance of telecom equipment till local was developed in adequate numbers.
LONG -TERM PLANS
In addition to the contingency plan, the ministry of communication had a long-term plan for improvement of telecommunication facilities throughout the federation within the context of the Third National Development Plan (1975-1980). New modern telephone exchanges for 147 locations had been contracted and arrangement was in hand to contract for 145 telephone exchanges required. In new local government area on completion, these exchanges should add about 203,000 lines, bringing the telephone networks to a total of about 370,00 lines. Additional 84,000 lines were to be provided by installation of mobile exchanges and interface equipment. The contracts for the new telephone exchanges included switching equipment and the associated subscribers’ cable network.
Between 1978 and 1980, additional 296000 telephone lines were to be connected to the network to bring the total of 750,000 by the end of the Third National Development Programme. This represents to telephone density to 10 per 1000 population. On a long term basis, the department planned to increase the line capacity to 2,500,000 by 1985 and bring Nigeria telephone density to the world average growth rate. The implementation of transmission projects under the Third National Development programme would provide sufficient and reliable trunk circuits to meet the anticipated increased volume of trunk traffic.
Although the terrestrial radio system on microwave would still form the backbone of the transmission system. Other systems like the coaxial cable, domestic satellite communication and tethered Aerostats (Ballon system) had been adopted to meet the planned facilities and bring security into the system by duplication.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The federal government of Nigeria has realized the need for telephone facilities by government functionaries as well as the business community and individuals. As development in trade, commerce and industry progressed at a very fast rate, government increased its efforts towards seeing that customer demands for telephone are met.
In addition to the huge sums of money, government assigned to (NET) Nigeria External Telecommunication, which is known today as NITEL, it appointed in 1962 a team of experts from abroad to carry out a study on the country’s future telecommunication requirements.
This was to ensure the effective and profitable marketing of telephone services. NITEL does not have the technical and sophisticated machinery and specialized personnel.
Unfortunately, NITEL has not lived up to expectation of its numerous customers. NITEL subscribers/customers often complain of “dead lines”, noisy background, interference etc.
1.3 THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
This research is intended
(i) To identify the causes of complaints from NITEL
(ii) To identify ways of improving the quality of NITEL services available at affordable price to customers in Enugu metropolis.
(iii) To identify the effect of prices on marketing of NITEL telephone services.
(iv) To identify how easily available NITEL telephone services are.
(v) To promote NITEL services for customers patronage.
(vi) To use the opportunity of this study to make appropriate recommendations (strategies) for dealing with the noticed lapses.
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
Ho1: The quality of telephone services rendered by NITEL plc does not encourage customer’s patronage.
H11: The quality of telephone services rendered by NITEL Plc encourages customers patronage.
Ho2: The prices of NITEL telephone services are not attractive to customers
H12: The prices of NITEL telephone services are attractive to customers
Ho3: NITEL telephone services are not readily available to customers (NITEL subscribers)
H13: NITEL telephone services are readily available to consumers (NITEL
Ho4: NITEL telephone services are not effectively promoted for customer
HI4: NITEL telephone services are effectively promoted for customer
Ho5: The marketing strategies employed by NITEL plc Enugu do not lead to
increased profitability in its operations.
HI5: The marketing strategies employed by NITEL plc Enugu do lead to
increased profitability in its operations.
1.5 THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study can be appreciated in relation to the vital role telephone services are expected to play in a developing economy like Nigeria. The role is a determinant factor for the successful working of government establishments as well as rapid development of trade, commerce and industry. It is expected that this study will enable Intel to discover and tackle its customers’ complaints.
The study will also suggest to NITEL ways to improve the quality of its telephone services resulting in greater customer patronage.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
In tackling the topic “effective strategies for marketing telephone services with particular reference to NITEL operations in Enugu metropolis, subscribers in Enugu were also used as research subjects to supplement and authenticate information supplied by NITEL staff.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Some important terms that are used in this study are hereby explained as follows:
(1) NITEL subscribers: person paying regular sum of money for the use of telephone lines operated by NITEL
(2) Cable: strong thick wire
(3) Cable route: transporting system usually with elevated cable
(4) Compressor: machine for compressing air or other gases.
(5) Trunk communication: main telephone line.
(6) Trunk traffic: frequency of the use of main telephone lines by subscribers.
(7) Coaxial cable: cables of the same axis.
(8) Net: Nigeria external telecommunication
(9) DST: domestic satellite communication
(10) Celluphone: a telephone system that works by radio.