NCC reads riot Act to MNOs over N30bn loss to unsolicited SMS

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NIGERIAN Communications Commission (NCC) has charged the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to find a lasting solution to the menace of unsolicited Short Message Service (SMS) immediately.
This followed claims by the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS) that telephone users in the country lose about N30 billion to unsolicited SMS) monthly from the activities of Value Added Service Providers (VAS).
These were parts of the fallouts of the 4th quarter /Open Forum of Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF) held in Lagos recently on the theme: “effective service delivery: issues and challenges”.
Alhaji Abdullahi Maikano, director, Consumer Affairs Department, NCC, disclosed that the NCC will meet with the operators soon to identify what could be the challenges they are facing in checkmating the activities of VAS providers on their networks, stressing that this has become very important so that consumers will not continue to suffer from the menace.
But Deolu Ogunbanjo, NATCOMS president, said so many Nigerians are bleeding through this menace.
Ogunbanjo, who said the time has come for better regulation of this aspect of Nigeria’s telecommunications sector, based his analysis on the fact that on the average, telecommunications subscribers in Nigeria spent about N200, which the operators deduct from their accounts without permission.
The MNOs (MTN, Globacom; Airtel and Etisalat) on the other hand have claimed that most of the unsolicited text messages do not come directly from them but through the VAS providers.
At the end of the meeting, the NCC was urged to meet with the Network Operators/Service Providers and VAS licensees to urgently address the issues of unsolicited text messages and automatic data renewal.
Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF) was established by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) about Six (6) years ago as an independent body responsible for advising and making recommendations to NCC on issues and challenges affecting consumers of telecoms products and services in Nigeria.
The objective of ICAF is to ensure that all stakeholders are carried along in articulating a regulatory process that will promote and ensure consumer protection at all times.
At the 4th quarter/open Forum issues on creating customer-centric culture; paradigm shift from customer satisfaction to customer experience led the discussion, even as participants looked at ”Issues and Challenges of Effective Service Delivery”
However, ICAF wants ‘Service Providers’ Compliance to addressed the furore on unsolicited SMS, automatic data plan renewal and credit depletion’
The forum further enjoined Service Providers to progress from customer satisfaction to positive customer experience for all their subscribers.
The forum notes with great concern the numerous complaints of unsolicited text messages in the telecom industry and the need for a comprehensive framework from the NCC to address this issue in order to ameliorate the nuisance this has become.
ICAF also urged NCC to put pressure on the National Assembly to urgently pass the Critical National Infrastructure Bill; while the Commission to address the challenge of Multiple Taxation in the sector and canvass the adoption of the Lagos State smart city model to the remaining states of the Federation.
The Commission and the Service Providers were also encouraged to step up subscriber awareness campaign on industry issues and challenges.

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