Value Added Services (VAS) providers in the telecommunication sector, under the aegis of Wireless Application Service Providers Association of Nigeria (WASPAN), yesterday, urged the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to reinstate auto-renewal option to services offered to network subscribers.
They argued that many legitimate operators had generated no revenue since NCC directed a stop to auto-renewal in the past four months.
However, addressing the telecommunications community at the first annual Nigeria Value Added Service stakeholders forum on Thursday in Lagos, NCC insisted that its decision to stop auto-renewal of VAS was to protect consumers from forceful subscription.
The Director, Compliance and Monitoring, NCC, Mr. Efosa Idehen, said investigations revealed that licensed VAS were colluding with unlicensed operators to forcefully subscribe consumers to unsolicited services.
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According to him, the practise has resulted in the stealing of airtime of consumers and lack of trust in telecom providers. He added that there was no correlation between the total number of subscribers VAS providers have on their platforms and the records with MNOs.
Idehen said whenever subscribers request for a refund of their stolen airtime, the records of how the airtime was used were often not found. The NCC director said, “There are more bad eggs than good ones among you. Look inward and self-regulate your house. Come to us with clean hands.”
The Head, Wireless Networks, at NCC, Anthony Ikemefuna, hinted that the unlicensed operators could be technical personnel working with the mobile network operators, adding that operators need to check their workers in order to find a lasting solution to the menace.
The National Co-ordinator, WASPAN, Chidioke Ezeh, explained that the association was working internally to identify perpetrators, urging the commission to give a timeline for the completion of the process as many companies have shutdown and laid off workers due to their inability to generate revenue.
Mobile value added services are products/services offered via a mobile platform, like short message service and multimedia message services. These broad range of products/services that add value and offer mobile subscribers flexibility, convenience, assistance and other benefits from the mobile networks are also non-voice revenue streams for operators.
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The commission on May 21 issued a directive to all network providers to desist from carrying out automatic or unwarranted renewal of data packages without their consent and forcefully subscribing consumers to VAS services.
According to NCC, the penalty for forcefully subscribing consumers to the VAS service without their consent will attract a fine of N5 million for any service provider who defaults the directive.