NCC to Sanction Operators for Unsolicited SMS, Voice Calls

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Worried about the increasing rate at which telecoms operators and value added service providers are broadcasting unsolicited short message service (SMS) and voice calls to telecoms subscribers, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has warned operators to either stop the practice or risk sanction if found wanting, THISDAY reports.

Director, Consumer Affairs of NCC, Mrs. Maryam Bayi, who issued the warning at an interactive session with journalists in Lagos recently, said the Commission is inundated with complaints from subscribers who are disturbed by incessant SMS and voice calls they receive on a daily basis. She said the NCC is considering regulating such SMS and voice calls, with the intention to sanction those behind it.

According to her, subscribers mistake the unsolicited SMS and voice calls for real business calls, especially when they are expecting important SMS and voice calls from either their business partners, their superior officers, friends or relations, only to discover that the call or SMS originated from telecoms operators and value added service providers, who use such means for their tele-marketing.

She explained that if there are regulations, there will be some form of restrictions on the part of the operators, in broadcasting such messages.
Director, Public Affairs of NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, who also shared the pains of subscribers over unsolicited messages and voice calls, called on subscribers to challenge the operators by calling them to stop such broadcast, each time they received unsolicited text messages and voice calls.

Telecoms operators have defended themselves at different telecoms fora, insisting that the unsolicited SMS and voice calls do not emanate directly from them, but from value added service providers that have been licensed by the NCC to do SMS broadcast.

In spite of the denial, the unsolicited SMS and voice calls still circulate to millions of subscribers on a daily basis and subscribers are highly irritated by it.
Other issues discussed at the interactive forum, were centered around the 2.6GHz spectrum, and the delay in the rollout of 2.3GHz spectrum licence, which the NCC sold to Bitflux in February 2014.

Fielding questions from journalists in these areas, the Director, Spectrum Administration and Control of NCC, Mr. Austin Nwalune said the Commission is making fresh plans to license the 2.6GHz spectrum band, and promised that NCC will revisit the guidelines for the rollout of 2.3GHz spectrum and carryout the necessary enforcement that will compel Bitflux to rollout service on the 2.3GHz spectrum, which it won last year.

Chief Executive Officer of VDT Communications, one of the three consortiums that made up Bitflux, Mr. Biodun Omoniyi, has however promised Nigerians that the company would roll out service on the 2.3GHz spectrum in April next month.

“We are ready to roll out, having signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an international vendor to supply equipment that will facilitate service rollout. Initially we wanted to roll out at the end of the first quarter of the year, but that plan has been shifted by two weeks, which means we have a new date to rollout service by April this year,” Omoniyi said.

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