MTN, Airtel, others get final warning over unsolicited messages

MTN, Airtel, others get final warning over unsolicited messages

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it has run out of patience with telecommunication operators over unsolicited messages to subscribers.

The commission on Monday issued a final one-week ultimatum for the 13 telecom network operators to put a stop to the messages or face sanctions.

NCC had on April 20 issued a “Do not disturb (DND)” directives to the 13 operators.

The commission said it was worried by the non-compliance by the operators, resulting in a deluge of complaints by subscribers nationwide.

Already, an eight-member committee was recently constituted by the NCC to look into the matter and come up with ways to bring an end to it.

“After several meetings, including those held with the network providers, it became necessary to issue the latest ultimatum to redress the menace of incessant unsolicited text messages and phone calls for telemarketing via the various networks,” NCC Director, Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, said.

Mr. Ojobo listed the affected network operators to include Airtel Network Limited, MTN Nigeria, Globacom Nigeria, Smile Communication, Visafone Communications, Ntel, Etisalat, Multi links, Starcomms, Danjay Telecoms, Gamjitel Limited and Gicell wireless.

He said the NCC had written to all the 13 networks providers on whose networks it received a series of complaints from subscribers regarding the efficacy of the “Do Not Disturb (DND)” service.

Mr. Ojobo said the Commission had engaged mobile network operators on the subject and directed that the phrase ‘MTN generated SMS’ referred to part(d) of the duration issued on April 20, to MTN and other network providers shall be taken to mean messages and calls with respect to only information on emergencies.

 He cited the example of national security, fire, notifications on network maintenance programmes down times and notification regarding subscribers bundle usage and service renewals.

Other text messages and voice calls informing subscribers of new products and service offerings were not regarded as network generated and therefore regarded as “unsolicited marketing messages”.

The director said the NCC asked the affected network providers to ensure information on the “Do Not Disturb” service should be disseminated after every revenue generating activity via the end of call notification (EOCN) for the period not less than 45 days within the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily from the receipt of the latest letter on the subject.

He said the operators were equally urged to disseminate the information through all channels of communications open to them, including websites, social media platforms, bill boards,
flash messages, text messages, interactive voice response platform, radio jingles, newspapers advertisements and television commercials.

“Failure to comply with the directives, in furtherance of the Direction of April 20, 2016, within seven days from November 14, 2016 shall result in the imposition of appropriate sanctions,” the commission warned.

Nigerians have endured the nightmare of unsolicited text messages from telecom operators, and several subscribers have petitioned the NCC for redress.

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