Nigerian telecom regulatory agency, NCC has imposed a N500,000 fine on telcos that disregard the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) instructions. Mr. Philip Eretan, Deputy Director, Licensing and Authorization at the NCC, issued the warning on Thursday. Mr. Eretan spoke at the Telecom Consumer Parliament.
This news is a big step in combating the long-standing issue of unsolicited calls and messaging.
Why is this an Issue?
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.
However, 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.
A Full DND which is SMS "STOP" to 2442 does not allow the subscribers to receive any unsolicited message from the operators at all.
— ncc.gov.ng (@NgComCommission) July 3, 2016
However there’s one problem: DND doesn’t block spam messages from telecom operators. Exploiting this, telecom operators in the country have continued to molest subscribers with needless messages.
NCC’s Fine Could Restore Normalcy to DND
To correct the situation of unsolicited calls, the NCC has imposed a 500,000 fine on telecommunication companies that violate DND instructions. The new fine would help strike a balance between providing useful value added services and controlling the flow of unwanted messages. As a matter of fact, NCC boss, Prof. Umar Danbatta has said consumers who activate the feature and telcos must observe the DND instruction.
Of course, it would be interesting to see how this imposition of fine plays out. But considering the huge N1.2tr fine NCC imposed on MTN two years ago, telecommunication companies would want to be cautious.
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