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NCC mulls N5m fine payable to subscribers by networks for unsolicited sms, calls

Even as it sounds impossible, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is about to announce a regulation that will compel networks from whom an unsolicited sms or calls originates to pay the infringed subscriber, a fine of N5mn.

Giving the hint in Abuja during the marking of 2017 World Consumer Right Day (WCRD), the executive vice chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, however, clarified that  before the breach could be established to enable the commission sanction any telecom operator, a subscriber must have sent a message, ‘STOP’, to a short code ‘2442’ to opt out of the service.

According to him, “If the messages keep coming into your phone, send a message of complaint to NCC to a short code ‘622’ or call the short code. If that continues, necessary sanction will be undertaken”.

Danbatta added that there is the need to enlighten Nigerians of their rights on the use of the ‘622’ short code across the 774 local government areas of the country, saying “The commission will assess the outcome of the campaign to know the necessary steps to take if the campaign is completed.”

Earlier in his keynote address at the flag-off of the NCC 2017 Year of the Consumer during the WCRD, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, hinted that his ministry is formulating cogent policies, frameworks and guidelines on protecting ICT consumers, especially in telecommunications.

Adebayo said “Nigeria has established itself as one of the fastest growing mobile cellular markets in the world”.

“The normal anticipated consumer data base should be hosting about 450 million records of users, if each customer joins at least two network vendors with each having at least a single SIM card. However, some consumers have two or more SIM cards/lines due to network coverage challenges.

“Billions of dollars have been invested in the Nigerian telecoms market since the inception of the GSM in 2001; operators have committed to invest even more in the near future. Because of this development and since Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, access to the internet has to improve significantly to realise the objective of a ‘Better Digital World’.

“Research shows that by 2020, about 52 percent of the world population will be online. About 72 percent of the people don’t know what information companies collect about them online and what purposes,” Shittu stated.

The minister added that despite all the challenges such as drop calls, rise in consumer base, delays in hooking up calls, network coverage among others, government is working on policies and effective strategies to improve on those challenges.

He said “Government is also working to create digital awareness with the objective of increasing the capacity, confidence and trust Nigerians have in the digital world.”