Many Sanctions, More Breaches

With a decisive and uncompromising stance, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), seems to be saying to all the telecoms operators that change has come, indeed, and it is no longer business as usual; they must comply with directives.

In the last few years, the NCC has harped on best quality of service and compliance to regulatory directives at every opportunity but it appears that most of the telecom networks reluctantly complied.

There have been a number of threats and sanctions by the regulator in the last couple of years, the biggest being the N1.4 trillion fine slammed on MTN Nigeria.

More recently, the NCC has been talking tough on more sanctions against telcos over non-compliance with directives on unsolicited telemarketing.

According to the regulator, for failing to comply with the NCC’s do-not-disturb (DND) directive issued to operators on April 20, 2016, 13 network operators risk severe sanctions, even though a window of grace was given till Monday, November 14, 2016 to remedy the situation. It seems the telcos have not taken the threat seriously.

The commission stated that it became worried by the operators’ default, evidenced in a deluge of complaints from subscribers across the country.

The NCC“inaugurated an eight-member committee to look into the matter.After several meetings, including those it held with the network providers, it became necessary to issue another ultimatum to redress the menace of incessant unsolicited text messages and phone calls for telemarketing via the various networks,” an NCC source said.

Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo disclosed that the network operators include Airtel, MTN, Globacom , Smile Communications, Visafone Communications, Ntel, Etisalat, Multi-Links, Starcomms, Danjay Telecoms, Gamjitel Limited and Gicell Wireless.

“The NCC has written to all 13 networks providers on whose networks it has received series of complaints from subscribers regarding the efficacy of the DND service and engaged mobile network operators on this subject and further directs that the phrase network generated SMS referred to part(d) of the duration issued on April 20, 2016, to network providers shall be taken to mean messages and calls with respect to only information on emergencies, for example, national security, fire, notifications on network maintenance programmes down times and. Notification regarding subscribers bundle usage and service renewals.

“Other text messages and voice calls informing subscribers of new products and service offerings are not regarded as network-generated and, therefore, regarded as “unsolicited marketing messages”.

Ojobo further stated that the menace of unsolicited text messages has been a nightmare to millions of subscribers and the commission can no longer accept any excuses for the menace from the networks.

A telecoms subscribers, Muyideen Lawal, noted that NCC was doing its best to put things right but reasoned that, if threats or sanctions are too severe they may have adverse effects on the organisations and, indirectly, the subscribers.

“The economy is not too bouyant and most of them are struggling to survive; if NCC becomes hostile, government may become the loser at the end of the day, when they (operators) decide to leave. Both parties should tread with caution,” he said.