NCC fines Airtel, 9mobile N136m for violating industry regulations


Two major network operators in the country, Airtel and 9mobile, have been slammed with a total fine of N136m by the Nigerian Communications Commissions for violating various industry regulations.

The NCC, in its 2019 first quarter enforcement report, stated that the network providers flouted different industry regulations such as automatic renewal of data subscription, wrongful disconnection of an interconnect carrier and breaking the Do-Not-Disturb directive.

The commission said it found Airtel wanting in its Quality of Service regulation by disconnecting an interconnect carrier, Exchange Telecommunications Limited, without getting the necessary approval.

The telecoms regulator said it had thus imposed a total fine of N121m on Airtel.

The NCC said, “Airtel Networks Limited, having contravened the provisions of the Quality of Service Regulations, 2013 and Enforcement Processes Regulations, 2005 by disconnecting Exchange Telecommunications Limited without the commission’s approval, was sanctioned on March 28, 2019, to pay the sum of N121,000,000 to the commission.”

Airtel, which is Nigeria’s third-largest network operator, together with 9mobile, was found by the NCC to have placed some subscribers who had opted for full DND on Value Added Service.

The report revealed that the two operators were asked to pay N5m each to the commission for the contravention that affected 13 subscribers of 9mobile and 56 Airtel customers.

The regulator had introduced the 2442 Do-Not-Disturb short-code activation for subscribers not interested in receiving unsolicited text messages, while a toll-free line was provided for consumers to report issues related to unsolicited messages and data renewals, among others.

The Director, Zonal Operations, NCC, Mrs Amina Shehu, at a forum, had urged the consumers “to be ambassadors of the commission by helping to pass the information and education they had received at the event to other telecoms consumers who may not be aware of such consumer-centric initiatives.”

Also in March this year, the telecom regulator also said it received a complaint of automatic data renewal from a 9mobile subscriber, which it investigated and fined the telco N5m for violating its directive.

“The complaint was investigated and found 9mobile to have breached the directive on automatic renewal of data subscription.  In its response, 9mobile said that the breach was as a result of a previously undetected and isolated failure on its data subscription platform, which was not acceptable by the commission.

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“Based on the foregoing, a notice of sanction dated March 19, 2019, was sent to 9mobile for the sum N5, 001, 000,” the report stated.

The telecoms regulator last year had issued a directive to all network providers to desist from carrying out the automatic or unwarranted renewal of data package without their consent and forcefully subscribing consumers to VAS services.

According to the NCC, the penalty for forcefully subscribing consumers to the VAS service without their consent will attract a fine of N5m.

NCC to discuss solutions, innovations and strategic partnerships with stakeholders

The Nigerian Communications Commission is set to identify the gaps and proffer solution to the challenges in the telecommunication sector in collaboration with stakeholders.

According to a statement issued recently, this will be discussed at the second edition of the Emerging Telecoms Technologies Research and ICT Innovation forum for the North-West region which will hold in Kano State this month.

It said the forum’s theme, ‘Developing Nigeria’s Tech Ecosystem: Imperative for Improving Local Content’ was in line with the commission’s commitment to promoting ICT innovation and investment opportunities and facilitating strategic collaboration and partnership.

It explained that the forum was a unique opportunity for the NCC to bring together key players in the Nigerian tech-ecosystem to deliberate and suggest policies that could develop the sector, thereby serving as a catalyst for improving local content in ICT/telecommunication sector.

The gathering, according to the regulator, would identify the gaps in the ICT/telecom sector, and strengthen the collaboration between stakeholders and the commission as well as proffer possible solution to the identified gaps.

The Executive Vice- Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, would address the gathering comprising stakeholders drawn from the Nigerian Tech ecosystem; mobile network operators, Internet Service Providers, tech hubs, professional associations in the ICT sector, Original Equipment Manufacturers, consumer advocacy group and the financial sector.

According to the regulator, a lead paper presentation on the theme, ‘Developing Nigeria’s Tech Ecosystem; Imperative for Improving Local Content’ will be delivered by Africa Chair, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Internet of Things, Dr Chris Uwaje.