In an effort to reduce the rising trend of sending unsolicited Short Message Service (SMS), otherwise known as text messages by telecoms operators (Telcos) and Value Added Service (VAS) providers, to telecoms subscribers in an incessant manner, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has written a strong worded letter to operators, directing them to stop henceforth.
In its statement, NCC stated:
“The commission in line with its regulatory functions of protecting the interest of consumers as provided in sections 4(1)(b) and 105(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA 2003), and ensuring the development of the Nigerian Communications Industry, is of the opinion that degradation of consumer quality experience through unsolicited telemarketing, should be curtailed.”
The failure to comply with the new directive, with effect from July 1, 2016, will attract a fine of N5m, with additional N500,000 per day, for as long as the contravention persists, according to the commission.
The document, which was released on Sunday, showed that a total of 13 MNOs were issued with the directive. They include: MTN, Airtel, Smile, Etisalat, Globacom,Visafone,Starcomms, Megatech Engineering Limited, Gicell Wireless Limited, Danjay Telecoms, Gamjitel, Multilinks and Natcom.
Before now, NCC had called the operators to several forums to discuss ways on how best to reduce the messages, which subscribers often complained were becoming embarrassing. In response, Telcom operators have always exonerated themselves, shifting the blame to VAS operators, and the situation had continued unabated, while subscribers continued to suffer the brunt.
With the new law on unsolicited messages, licensees are now mandated by the Consumer Code of Practice Regulations, 2007, to conduct telemarketing in accordance with any ‘call’ or ‘do not call’ preferences recorded by the consumer at the time of entering into a contract for services or after.