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NCC vows to sanction telcos over forced subscriptions



GSM industry paid govt $1.8bn in taxes in 2017

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed that it will sanction telecom providers forcefully subscribing consumers to value-added services (VAS).

This warning was contained in a statement issued by Efosa Idehen, director of consumer affairs bureau at NCC, via a video published on the commission’s Twitter account on Friday, February 26.

Idehen explained that VAS is the value added by a service provider to a consumer and if there are no value-added, it is wrong to forcefully subscribe one to it.

“Forceful subscription is a no to the commission. For you to subscribe into VAS, a message is first sent to you and then another is sent for confirmation on whether a consumer wants to subscribe to the service or not,” he said.

“If they forcefully subscribe you to content without permission or confirmation, report such case to the commission.

“It is an offence and it is punishable by sanction, there are penalties for forcefully subscribing VAS if consumers didn’t subscribe to it. ”

Idehen advised consumers to always check the contents of any VAS product shared/delivered, as when one is subscribed to such, there are terms and conditions applied to it.

In his remarks, Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice-chairman (EVC) of NCC, says subscribers in the country now consume 80 terabytes of data monthly.

According to a report by NCC, basic active internet subscriptions grew from 90 million to 154.3 million between 2015 and 2020.

“According to the latest statistics on data usage, Nigerians are consuming in excess of about 80 terabytes of data monthly,” Danbatta said.

Read also: NCC refutes reports of allocating 383m new cellphone numbers to operators

“We have seen this trend for quite a while due to increase in data usage and increase in online activities, which has led to the increase in demand of data by consumers.”

The EVC further said NCC is fully aware of the difficulties consumers face with their telecom providers on data consumption.

NCC had reported that between January 2019 and April 2020, it received a total of 26,169 complaints, majorly on poor services and data consumption.

It also said that during the COVID-19 lockdown, 76 consumer complaints were received, bordering on data, billing, SIM registration, credit depletion, value-added services (VAS), line barred, poor network, and fraud.

“We are aware of the difficulties consumers are experiencing when it comes to data consumption.

“We have received complaints of how consumers’ data is been depleted quickly. However, this depletion is a result of usage by consumers or as a result of an allegation being said that mobile operators are overcharging consumers.”

Danbatta pledged to continue to defend consumers from dubious practices in the telecom industry.

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