Business Hilights
Tracking Nigeria's Headline Business News Online

Subscribers decry failed stoppage of unsolicited calls, sms as loses gross N30b monthly

Investigations have revealed that whereas the telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has continued to read a riot act to telecoms operators in the country to respect every stoppage text sent by any subscriber to end unsolicited calls or sms, the menace has intensified.

The regulator had last year given all the operators, including MTN, Globacom, Airtel, Etisalat and other Value Added Service (VAS) providers up till June 30, 2016 to stop sending unsolicited SMS or calls to subscribers or face sanctions from the NCC, even in 2017, many subscribers who responded to Business Hilights questionnaire agreed that they have received not less that three sms within the first week of the new year, thus making nonsense of the regulators ultimatum that had its deadline June last year.

At a forum last November, the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS) lamented that telephone users in the country were losing about N30b to unsolicited SMS monthly from the activities of Value Added Service Providers (VAS), which run on the platforms of the MNOs.

President of NATCOMs, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo said “At times, they will tell you they have automatically renewed what you never subscribed for and deduct money. Such messages claim between N50 to N200 to N500 monthly from subscribers. Our investigations showed that on the average, subscribers lose N200 monthly and when you multiply that by the about 150 million mobile telephone users in Nigeria, you will arrive at N30b. By the end of the year, we may be getting around N360b shared by telecommunications operators and their VAS collaborators, reaped illegally from subscribers.

 “The industry must look at this very fast and act on it,” Ogunbanjo stated.

On the other hand, President of Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, unsolicited text messages is disrupting the quality of service delivery, and called for all hands to be on deck.

He said “We all must work together as stakeholders. The regulators, the operators, as well as, the consumers must take collective responsibility on the state of quality of service. We must understand the workings of the industry; we must understand issues of policies and regulations and we must understand issues of consumer concerns and address those issues,” he said.

While noting that aside those span text messages that come from the operators; there are others that flow from the Internet, which is open platform, as well as, those that emanate from the VAS operators.

To him, NCC must apply stringent regulation especially on the VAS operators, saying without such tough rules, it might be difficult to regulate their platforms.

NCC’s Deputy Director, Consumers Affair, noted that all the complaints raised at the July forum would be resolved amicably because of the monitoring mechanism of the commission.

According to the NCC official, “Now if you don’t want to be disturbed, you send STOP to 2442. But, we need to stress the fact that it is not all messages that are bad, some are quite educative, some give information about the weather, traffic, health, sport, among others. There is what we call full DND, that is don’t even bother me and there is partial DND that is on issue of education send message to me but on music, I don’t want. That is why the option of 2442 has been provided and the particular message you don’t want will stop coming. So, if you ban all text messages from coming in, you will not know when the message that will be beneficial to you will come. But as I have said, consumers are at liberty to choose what they want,” he stated.

But many respondent to Business Hilights questionnaire said even though they had done all that, they still receive the distractive sms and calls.

One of the respondent who obliged to give his name as Wilson Omale said “What I now do to stop the unsolicited calls is to send the calling numbers to ‘block list’ on my phone”.

It would be recalled that NCC had given a reminder letter to all networks signed by the Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Tony Ojobo, warning that NCC will sanction any of them that failed to heed to subscribers DND request.