NCC To Fine nTel, Airtel, Others Over Unsolicited SMS
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
At least 13 telecommunications operators in Nigeria may soon be sanctioned by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to comply with the agency’s ‘2442 Do Not Disturb (DND)’ directive on unsolicited telemarketing.
A statement issued on Monday by the telecoms regulator noted that the service providers have now been given another one-week ultimatum, from Monday, November 14, 2016, to remedy the situation or face the sanctions enshrined in the directive.
On April 20, 2016, telecoms operators in the country were ordered by the NCC to comply with the 2442 Do Not Disturb directive on unsolicited telemarketing.
However, some of the operators have failed to heed to this order.
Last Saturday, a former military Governor of Kaduna State, Mr Abubakar Umar, disclosed that he had informed his lawyer to file a suit against MTN over same issue.
In NCC’s statement issued on Monday by its Director of Public Affairs, Mr Tony Ojobo, it was disclosed that the commission had written to the providers on whose networks it had received series of complaints from subscribers regarding the efficacy of DND.
The affected networks are Airtel Network Ltd., MTN Nigeria, Globacom Nigeria, Smile Communication, Visafone Communications, Ntel, Etisalat, Multi-Links, Starcomms, Danjay Telecoms, Gamjitel Ltd., Megatech Engineering Ltd. and Gicell Wireless.
“Worried by the non-compliance by the operators, occasioned by a deluge of complaints by subscribers across Nigeria, the NCC inaugurated 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,” the NCC said in the statement.
Mr Ojobo said the phrase ‘Network-Generated SMS’ referred to in Part (d) of the directive shall be taken to mean messages and calls, with respect to only information on emergencies.
According to him, the information on emergencies, include: national security, fire, notifications on network maintenance programmes 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.
“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 8pm daily, from the receipt of the latest letter on the subject.
“The operators are also admonished to deploy this information through all their channels of communications, including websites, social media platforms, billboards, flash messages, text messages, Interactive Voice Response platform, radio jingles, newspapers advertisements and television commercials,” Mr Ojobo explained.