Monday, 12 September 2016

Telecoms firms get final caution on unsolicited messages

Peeved by the apparent disdain for its earlier directive, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has again warned Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) operators, especially the quartet of MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat, to halt fortwith unsolicited messages (SMS) to subscribers.

The regulator noted that despite its earlier warnings, the menace had maintained an upward swing.

The commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, observed yesterday that telecommunications service providers appear not to have fully activated their Do-Not-Disturb (DND) facility which gives subscribers the freedom to choose the messages they receive, adding that “NCC is still inundated with complaints by subscribers of continuing text harassment by operators.”

Ojobo clarified that the activation of the ‘2442 Do Not Disturb Short Code’ took effect from July 1, 2016.

He observed that industry compliance doesn’t seem to have matched the seriousness of the directive thus, compelling the commission to issue a final warning to the operators.

The NCC spokesman said the directive took into cognisance the broad range of services, which include banking, insurance, financial products, real estate, education, health, consumer goods, automobiles as well as communication, broadcasting, entertainment, information technology, tourism, leisure, sports and religion (Christianity, Islam, others).

It ordered operators to give the necessary instructions and clarifications that would enable users subscribe to a particular service, services or none at all.

He explained that a full DND which is SMS ‘STOP” to 2442 does not allow the subscriber to receive any unsolicited messages from the operators.

Ojobo, in a statement, called on operators to immediately comply with the directive, as further complaints would be treated as serious infractions.

The National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS) had claimed that service providers fleece subscribers about N30 billion monthly and over N360 billion yearly through the imposition of unsolicited SMS to the about 148 million telephone users in the country.

Its president, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, called for better regulation, noting that on the average, a subscriber loses about N200 daily without authorisation.


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