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…However, about 9m subscribers’ have rightly activated—NCC
Though the Nigerian telecom regulatory agency, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has imposed a N500,000 fine on telecoms that disregard the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) instructions, a telecoms expert has raised an issue saying, “Majority of Nigerian subscribers’ who wish to activate the DND do not really understand the steps”.
Business Hilights recalls that the Deputy Director, Licensing and Authorization at the NCC, Mr. Philip Eretan, had issued the monetary fine warning on Thursday at the 83rd Telecoms Consumer Parliament (TCP) held at Digital Bridge Institute, Cappa, near Oshodi in Lagos.
According to him, “This news is a big step in combating the long-standing issue of unsolicited calls and messaging”.
“Unsolicited messages (also known as Value Added Services) are a constant feature for Nigerian telecom subscribers. Value Added Services help share information about products and services that consumers could find useful. Of course, this is not peculiar to telcos, banking, education and many other sectors also employ the use of unsolicited messages.
Continuing, the NCC official argued that “The feature is being heavily abused. Nigerians have constantly been harassed with unsolicited messages from various service providers. Characteristically, the telecom operators themselves send out the most messages. Messages about low credit, data offers, new services, and caller tunes offers have completely taken over the inbox of most users”.
“The only way out is to block spam messages is to activate the DND feature. DND blocks unsolicited text messages about promos and services. And according to the NCC, the DND feature is active on 9 million telecom subscriptions.
However, a telecoms services provider who pleaded anonymity in an exclusive interview with Business Hilights during the TCP, noted that “Since the NCC introduced DND, it has not really done a serious campaign by way of explaining down-to-earth, how to activate or steps to follow to effect a full DND”.
“There is a tweet by NCC (ncc.gov.ng); @NgComCommission, saying “A Full DND which is SMS “STOP” to 2442 does not allow the subscribers to receive any unsolicited message from the operators at all”.
According to him, “By using the clause, ‘a full DND’ means that there may be half activation, near activation and then, full activation. These things need to be well explained in very simple language that can be easily understood by every subscriber irrespective of age, education, location and even exposure to technology”.
The expert further observed that “NCC should begin a round of media campaign across the nation to unambiguously educate Nigerians on how to activate full DND because many Nigerians who tried the process have also noticed that DND doesn’t block spam messages from telecom operators and that is why the VAS operators in connivance with some telecom operators in the country have continued to molest subscribers with needless messages”.
He said even though NCC has imposed a N500,000 fine on telecommunication companies that violate DND instructions, a lot more still need to be done by the regulator to find out whether the technology it deployed to set up the DND platform is error free or anti-tamper.
Business Hilights recalls that whereas the new fine would help strike a balance between providing useful value added services (VAS) and controlling the flow of unwanted messages, it is important to understand the sincere position of the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta who made it clear that “Consumers who activate the feature and telcos must observe the DND instruction”.
Analysts argue that for the fact that only nine million subscribers out of over 140 million were able to successfully activate their DND, there is something wrong somewhere in the process which the regulator must find out and fix before the fine regime will be justifiable after all.