Wednesday , December 1 2021

NCC slams Airtel N127 million fine, 9mobile for misconduct

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has slammed a N127 million fine on Airtel Nigeria and another of N5 million on 9mobile for misconduct.

The two erring mobile network providers were sanctioned for contravening its laws.

Investigation revealed that Airtel Nigeria was fined for unilaterally disconnecting Exchange Telecommunications Limited without seeking for approval from the regulator.

According to the Commission’s latest enforcement report, the regulator said the action totally contravened the provisions of the Quality of Service (QoS) Regulations 2013 and Enforcement Processes Regulations, 2005, hence the sanction.

It was noted that the  Section 100 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 frowns at disconnection of an operator without approval from the regulator, NCC.

The section states: “Notwithstanding the terms and conditions of any interconnection, a party thereto shall not at any time and in any circumstance disconnect or discontinue interconnection to any interconnecting party without the prior written approval of the Commission.”

The commission also noted that Airtel Nigeria was found guilty of another offence upon further investigation.

Speaking on this, NCC added that in the course of monitoring compliance with the DND directive, it was discovered that Airtel subscribed 56 numbers that are on full Do-not-Disturb (DND) to Value Added Services  (VAS), thereby contravening the regulatory directive again.

Joining the list of offenders, 9mobile was also found culpable in this act having subscribed 13 lines on full DND to VAS.

However, the both erring telecommunication operators claimed to have experience technical and software challenges for disconnecting affected mobile numbers.

“Following this discovery and subsequent correspondence with the licensees; the Commission rejected their responses and consequently sanctioned both EMTS and Airtel N5,000,000 each for breach of the Direction,” NCC said in its report.

Recall that, upon incessant complaints from subscribers over unsolicited text messages and charges for VAS not subscribed to, the regulator had introduced the 2442 DND code, which allows subscribers to opt out of receiving any unsolicited messages.

As a result, the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta warned that any mobile network operator found to have contravened the regulation would be fined N5 million per subscriber.

The EVC added that “for any subscriber that shows that they have chosen the Do Not Disturb option available from their mobile service providers but continues to receive unsolicited text messages, NCC would probe the concerned service provider.

“NCC would not only insist that the subscriber should be refunded for whatever that must have been charged by the operator, it would also impose a fine of N5 million for each subscriber that had been violated.

ALSO READ: NCC frowns at operators lukewarm attitude on interconnect debt settlement

In addition, the Head of Information and References at the Consumer Affairs Bureau of NCC, Mr Ismail Adedigba, the introduction of DND was further to the commission’s determination to put more control in the hands of consumers to determine what they receive on their mobile lines.

Adedigba explained that the Short Code allows telecoms consumers to get more protection against unsolicited text messages received as VAS and nuisance calls as well as against Internet-generated/distributed spam text messages that are fraudulently used to deduct consumer’s airtime credit.

“The DND code can be activated fully by sending “STOP” as a text message to 2442, thereby blocking all unsolicited text messages. It can also be activated partially by sending “HELP” as a text message to 2442 to choose from a list of categories of unsolicited messages which the consumer still wants to be receiving,” he said.

Adedigba said the regulator recorded that over 12 million subscribers have activated the code and it would continue to create more awareness on the service for consumers to have control over the kind of unsolicited text messages they receive.

“We expect that the number of subscribers opting for DND will continue to grow as more consumers become aware of the Short Code through continuous awareness campaigns activities at our outreach events. However, subscription to the service is optional,” he said.

About Bukola Olanrewaju

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