Stories Olabisi Olaleye
After several years of plea for regulatory intervention by the Nigerian telecommunication subscribers on unsolicited short messaging services (SMS) and voice calls from network providers, respite has finally come from the telecom umpire, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Network operators have always heaped the blame on Value Added Service Operators as being responsible for the various unsolicited SMSes and voice calls received by over 149 million subscribers.
VAS providers are sub set in the telecommunications industry who provide other services that are meant to compliment the services provided by the networks.
These unsolicited voice calls and SMSes have always been a pain in the neck for most subscribers who, at one point or the other, interrupts meaningful business or urgent family call because some mobile numbers from network operators would call and start to market a network provider’s products.
Subscribers have always complained that unsolicited SMSes are irritating and annoying because they pop up especially when they are expecting important alerts on their mobile phone.
However, an industry critic said, Nigeria is not the only country affected by unsolicited SMS but many countries around the world are battling with.
“What obtains is that because internet is not regulated, a lot of spam text messages emanate from other countries into our territory just as you get spam emails also from the internet inside your email box”.
Meanwhile, President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), Mr. Deolu Ogunbanjo said that millions of Nigerians are being fleeced and ripped off by VAS providers.
According to him, an estimated N400 billion through unwanted text messages and credit depletion ‘syndromes’ to over 149 million telecoms consumers in the country have been gleened by the VASO.
However, the expectation of end users is that the latest directive from the NCC, will eradicate these menance, that it would not be just another directive without strict compliance supervision.
Many telecom subscribers believe that if the Commission is insistent just as it did with the MTN sanction, every operator will know that it’s no longer business as usual.
Adeola Mbaka, a telecom subscriber added that “Just like corruption has eaten deep into the society and is not easy to eradicate, same goes for unsolicited messages, NCC may not totally eradicate them but may act as caution for most of the operators”.
It will be recalled that the NCC has issued directives to industry operators to activate the 2442 ,’Do Not Disturb Short Code’, which, according to the commission took effect from July 1, 2016.
The commission’s Public Affairs Director, Mr Tony Ojobo explained that the Directive mandates the operators to take immediate action that will ensure subscribers are informed with with independent decisions on what messages to receive from the networks.
Ojobo, said that industry compliance doesn’t seem to have matched the seriousness of the directive thus, compelling NCC to issue a final warning to the operators.
According to him, the Direction takes into cognizance the broad range of services, including banking, insurance,financial products, real estate, education, health, consumer goods and automobiles, communication, broadcasting, entertainment/ IT, tourism leisure, sports, religion (Christianity, Islam, others), and directed the operators to give the necessary instructions and clarifications that will enable subscribers subscribe to a particular service/services or none at all.
Said he: “In fact, a Full DND which is SMS ‘STOP” to 2442 does not allow the subscriber to receive any unsolicited messages from the operators at all.
“SMS 1” for receiving SMS relating to Banking/Insurance/ Financial Products to 2442. SMS 2 for real estate to 2442,
SMS 3 for Education , SMS 4 for health,
SMS 5 for consumer goods and automobiles”.
Others are SMS 6 for relating to communication/ broadcasting/ entertainment/ IT. SMS 7 for tourism and leisure, SMS 8 relating to sports,
SMS 9 to religion .
Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo reiterated that unsolicited text messages and voice calls are impinging on the quality of service delivery.
“Consumers should always protect themselves and be wary of wanton circulation of their phone numbers at different fora and occasions, as these could create a situation where numbers received are used for unsolicited text messages”.
Ojobo further called on service providers to immediately comply with the Direction as further complaints from the subscribers would be taken as serious infractions to a major regulatory intervention by the Commission.
Adebayo noted that regulating messages emanating from the internet may be difficult for NCC because the platform is open-source and unregulated.
Nigerians to experience tech eclipse
For the first time in the country, five models of ‘Eclipse’ smart and feature devices have been unveiled to address various needs of technology enthusiasts.
These devices are from the stable of Pumoh Exclusive Online Services, the distributor of UK-produced Eclipse range of feature phones, smart phones, smart tablets and smart watches in the Nigerian and African markets.
Commenting, Pumoh’s Managing Director, Mrs. Umoh Adingwupu, revealed that the new range of smart devices is set to revolutionize the mobile technology space because Nigerians will experience seamless personal entertainment to business functionalities.
During the demonstration, she said that the range of smart devices include two tablets, two smartphones, one feature phone, and one smart watch.
“As we say in Eclipse Smarts, soon there will be two kinds of people; those who use computers, smartphones and those who use Eclipse.
“We are aware that the market is currently filled with various brands but we believe that the Eclipse range will stand out because of their extra value for the user , production and basically because the products testing have passed through thorough quality control processes to align with standards including aesthetics, high-level functionality, super-durability and portability”.
The tablet range are the Eclipse Tab 7, Eclipse Tab 9 while the smartphone range include Eclipse Ice 2 , Eclipse Dlite P5 and the Eclipse Combo 3. According to Adingwupu, the Combo 3 is nothing like any other feature phone ever seen before.
“ It is a feature phone that can browse the internet and access the social media.
With the Combo 3, you have a phone that does all the basic things, gives you access to the Internet and also serves as a power bank to charge other phones.”