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Telecoms regulator ‘barks’ at unsolicited telemarketing

Telecoms regulator ‘barks’ at unsolicited telemarketing

The industry watchdog has threatened telecoms companies for allegedly flouting a directive to comply with the “Do Not Disturb” (DND) scheme that bars unsolicited telemarketing.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms industry regulator, had earlier mandated mobile phone companies to have dedicated “Do Not Disturb” services that shield mobile phone users from unsolicited messages.

NCC has threatened that it may fine 13 telecoms companies as punishment for not complying with the Do Not Disturb (DND) directives issued earlier this year.

The telecoms regulator says it has issued a one-week ultimatum beginning from today, Monday, November 14, 2016 to remedy the situation or face the severe sanctions stipulated by the directive.

Market share of the top four mobile phone networks in Nigeria Source: NCC
Market share of the top four mobile phone networks in Nigeria Source: NCC

According to Tony Ojobo, Director, Public Affairs at NCC, says the worry by the non-compliance by the operators resulted in a deluge of complaints by subscribers across Nigeria, led it to inaugurate 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 the latest ultimatum to redress the menace of incessant unsolicited text messages and phone calls for telemarketing via the various networks,”NCC said on its Facebook page to issue a final waring to the operators.

The affected network operators include Airtel Network Limited, MTN Nigeria, Globacom Nigeria, Smile Communication, Visafone Communications, Ntel, Etisalat, Multi links, Starcomms, Danjay Telecoms, Gamjitel Limited and Gicell wireless, according to the telecoms regulator.

Furthermore, NCC says it has written to all 13 networks providers on whose networks it has received series of complaints from subscribers regarding the efficacy of the Do Not Disturb (DND) service.

The statement says that the Commission had 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 program 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.”

NATCOM must pay, Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman at NCC, insists
Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC

NCC has therefore asked these network providers to ensure that information on the Do Not Disturb service should be disseminated after every revenue generating activity via the End of Call Notification (EOCN) for the period not less than 45 days within the hours of 8am to 8 pm daily from the receipt of the latest letter on the subject.

The regulator also told operators to deploy this information through all their channels of communications, including websites, social media platforms, bill boards, flash messages, text messages, Interactive Voice Response platform, radio jingles, newspapers advertisements and TV commercials.

According to NCC “failure to comply with the directives, in furtherance of the Direction of April 20, 2016, within seven days from November 14, 2016 shall result in the imposition of appropriate sanctions.”

The menace of unsolicited text messages has been a nightmare to several millions of subscribers and the Commission can no longer accept any excuses whatsoever from the network providers, NCC says.

Donatus Anichukwueze Technology Writer at Technology Times Media e-mail: donatus.anichukwueze@technologytimes.ng

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