The Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, has again warned telecom companies about sanction that may follow non-compliance of its law, but the threat may have been as good as many issued in the past that were snubbed by the violators.
In a statement recently signed by its Director of Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, the regulatory agency has mandated the operators to activate do-not-disturb function that will allow subscribers to choose messages they like to receive.
It has specifically directed telecom service providers to dedicate a common short code (2442) to enable subscribers make decisions on what message to receive from the network.
According to Ojobo, the directive is important because of the need to protect subscribers from the nuisance and irritation of unsolicited text messages and calls from mobile network operators.
But this is not the first time the agency would threaten telecom firms without any consequence.
In November 2012, NCC under the leadership of Dr. Eugene Juwah accused three GSM communication service providers of flouting its directive banning all forms of promotions and lotteries in the telecommunications sector, warning that it would not hesitate to allow the full weight of the law to descend on them.
Till date compliance to that directive remains low.
In 2013, the NCC directed all the network operators to disengage unlicensed Value Added Service (VAS) providers as a way of “sanitising” the system and reduce unsolicited messages; again that directive is yet to be fully complied with.
In July 2016, NCC also directed that all unsolicited messages should stop. Similar directive was issued in October the same year, but it has been business as usual.
For many years, telecom subscribers in Nigeria have been inundated by unsolicited messages and many have complained to both NCC and Consumer Protection Council to no avail.
A lawyer, Bolanle Hassan once described the sending of unsolicited messages by telecoms service providers as “acts of nuisance”.
He has received unsolicited messages from a particular company for more than a year, despite several efforts to stop them. He later sought redress in court.
The National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS), a body representing telecoms subscribers in Nigeria, has made several appeals to telecoms firms to stop violating consumer rights. The body has even gone to court to assert its right, but telecom services remain poor.
The consumers’ frustration and complaints has forced the hands of NCC to issue directives at different times, but to no effect.