Telecoms firms get final caution on unsolicited messages



Peeved by the apparent disdain for its earlier directive, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has again warned Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) operators, especially the quartet of MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat, to halt fortwith unsolicited messages (SMS) to subscribers.

The regulator noted that despite its earlier warnings, the menace had maintained an upward swing.

The commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, observed yesterday that telecommunications service providers appear not to have fully activated their Do-Not-Disturb (DND) facility which gives subscribers the freedom to choose the messages they receive, adding that “NCC is still inundated with complaints by subscribers of continuing text harassment by operators.”

Ojobo clarified that the activation of the ‘2442 Do Not Disturb Short Code’ took effect from July 1, 2016.

He observed that industry compliance doesn’t seem to have matched the seriousness of the directive thus, compelling the commission to issue a final warning to the operators.

The NCC spokesman said the directive took into cognisance the broad range of services, which include banking, insurance, financial products, real estate, education, health, consumer goods, automobiles as well as communication, broadcasting, entertainment, information technology, tourism, leisure, sports and religion (Christianity, Islam, others).

It ordered operators to give the necessary instructions and clarifications that would enable users subscribe to a particular service, services or none at all.

He explained that a full DND which is SMS ‘STOP” to 2442 does not allow the subscriber to receive any unsolicited messages from the operators.

Ojobo, in a statement, called on operators to immediately comply with the directive, as further complaints would be treated as serious infractions.

The National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS) had claimed that service providers fleece subscribers about N30 billion monthly and over N360 billion yearly through the imposition of unsolicited SMS to the about 148 million telephone users in the country.

Its president, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, called for better regulation, noting that on the average, a subscriber loses about N200 daily without authorisation.

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  • Maigari

    A long over due action. Many a Nigerian has completed the full DND, received an acknowledgement but are still inundated by the unwanted calls and texts from all the networks. To be sure though some have stopped the nonsense after the 2442 DND confirmation. The NCC should provide a reasonable channel of communication to receive the texts and calls and where found true and correct surcharge the Service providers for beach.

  • Triple_O

    That NCC has issued a directive introducing the “2442 Do Not Disturb Short Code” (or “2442-DND”)
    is laudable, but in making the directive, it has failed to ensure that the public is made aware of its provisions, which took effect from 1 July, 2016. It provides a common short message service (SMS) code across all the telecommunications (telcos) platforms, for the user to tell their telco which, if any, unsolicited texts the user is prepared to allow the
    telco send to the user’s phone. The user can send SMS “ALLOW” to 2442, to allow the telco send any and all unsolicited
    text messages to the user’s phone, or send “STOP” to 2442 to stop receiving all such messages. There is also provision of a series of numeric SMS codes defining areas of specific interest, ranging from “1” for Banking/ Insurance/
    Financial, through to “9” for Religion, to confirm that the user would want to receive SMS relating to these specific areas. Unfortunately, NCC has neither informed the public of the “2442-DND” codes, nor has it directed the telcos to communicate it to their users, thereby leaving the public in the dark and still at the mercy of these same telcos. Or perhaps NCC is laying a trap for them, since the “2442-DND” directive effective from 1 July, 2016 also provides that “failure by any of the operators to comply with the new directive would attract a fine of N5m, with additional N500, 000 per day, for as long as the contravention persists”. Such underhand behaviour would not be appropriate for a forward thinking Sector Regulator, so I hope NCC sees the urgent need to bring the workings of the “2442-DND” directive fully into the public domain!!!