Telecoms operators battle NCC over VAS market regulations

NCC Building

NCC Building

• Nigeria records 601 daily number porting activities
• Regulator reduces port restriction time to 45 days

The planned regulations of the Value Added Service (VAS) segment of the Nigerian telecommunications market may have pitted the operators against the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over some sections of the draft regulatory framework for the service in the country.

In Lagos, yesterday, at the presentation of the draft framework at an industry consultative forum organised by the NCC, the stakeholders in the telecoms industry expressed reservations to some sections of the draft regulatory framework, which they described as not been realistic and posed grave danger for indigenous players.

Already, Nigeria’s telecoms VAS market is estimated to worth over N300 billion with some 200 licensed players under the auspices of the Wireless Application Service Providers of Nigeria (WASPAN).

NCC consultant, Stephen Bello, explained the key areas that have been clearly addressed by the regulator in the proposed draft policy.

Meanwhile, the tempo of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in Nigeria seems to be on the upward swing as the industry records on daily basis average of 601 porting activities.

MNP, which was introduced on April 23, 2013 by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) under the leadership of erstwhile Executive Vice Chairman, Dr. Eugene Juwah, has been described as been very successful since implementation.

Bello explained that the industry has been restructured into VAS and content developers; VAS hosting and service providers; and Mobile network Operators (MNOs), saying that the aggregators would now be obtaining new licence of N10 million renewable after five years.

Other areas explained by Bello, which the regulator has come up with improved interventions include the unbundling of VAS for cost sharing, the decision for NCC to the sole generator of short codes to operators to be renewed yearly, blockage of any text messages without properly registered caller ID to check the rising wave of unsolicited SMS, unwanted mobile adverts, among others.

VAS stakeholders including the Managing Director of CreditSwitch, Tayo Adigun and the Chief Executive Officer, L5 Lab, Chika Nwobi, harped on the justification for the N10 million licensing fee introduced by the new policy, saying most players are smaller players, as the new few, they said, suggest a 1000 per cent increase in licensing fee.

Speaking earlier, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the purpose of the gathering was to reflect on the draft regulatory framework for the provision of VAS in Nigeria in another demonstration of the commission’s commitment to its auspicious Eight-Point Agenda unveiled early in the year to further develop the industry.

In a chat with The Guardian yesterday, the Managing Director of InterConnect Clearing House Nigeria Limited, the hosting platform for the MNP scheme, Oladele Ayanbadejo, said the challenging period of the scheme has been overcome.

Ayanbadejo said there has been steady increase in number porting since its inception in April 2013.

According to him, in the period of January to March 2016, the scheme recorded an average of 601 daily ports. “This is the highest average number daily port we have ever recorded. In 2014 and 2015 during the same period, we recorded average daily ports of 315 and 479 respectively. The average daily-completed ports in 2013 was 228. The average daily completed ports in the year 2014 was 405, while in 2015, we recorded 592 average daily complete ports.”

Ayanbadejo explained that the port restriction time was reduced to 45 days from the initial 90 days, stressing that this restriction in the number of days a subscriber can stay on a mobile network, before having the liberty to move to another network led to an average daily increase of about 35 to 45 completed ports.

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