NCC Goes Tough on MTN, Airtel, 11 Others over Unsolicited Telemarketing

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ABUJA, NOVEMBER 15, 2016 – For flouting the ‘Do Not Disturb’ (DND) directives, issued to them on April 20, 2016, 13 network operators risk severe sanctions by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

They are however given another one-week ultimatum being from Monday, November 14, 2016 to remedy the situation or face the Sanctions enshrined in the directive.

Worried by the non-compliance by the operators occasioned by a deluge of complaints by subscribers across Nigeria, the NCC inaugurated an eight – member committee to look into the matter.

After several meetings, including those it held with the network providers, it became necessary to issue the latest ultimatum to redress the menace of incessant unsolicited text messages and phone calls for telemarketing via the various networks, a statement by Mr Tony Ojobo, NCC Director, Public Affairs, said.

The network operators, include Airtel Network Limited, MTN Nigeria, Globacom Nigeria, Smile Communication, Visafone Communications, Ntel, Etisalat, Multi links, Starcomms, Danjay Telecoms, Gamjitel Limited and Gicell wireless.

The NCC has written to all 13 networks providers on whose networks it  has received  series of complaints from subscribers regarding the efficacy of the ‘Do Not Disturb’ (DND) service.

The statement said that the Commission had engaged mobile network operators on this subject and further directs that: the phrase Network generated SMS’ referred to part(d) of the duration issued on April 20, 2016 to  network providers shall be taken to mean: messages and calls with respect to only: information on emergencies for example, national security, fire; Notifications on network maintenance programmes down times and Notification regarding subscribers bundle usage and service renewals.

Other text messages and voice calls informing subscribers of new products and service offerings are not regarded as network generated and therefore regarded as “unsolicited marketing messages”.

The NCC has therefore asked these network providers to ensure that information on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ service should be disseminated after every revenue generating activity via the End of Call Notification (EOCN) for the period not less than 45 days within the hours of 8am to 8 pm daily from the receipt of the latest letter on the subject.

The operators are also admonished to deploy this information through all their channels of communications, including websites, social media platforms, bill boards, flash messages, text messages, Interactive Voice Response platform, radio jingles, newspapers advertisements and television commercials.

The statement said that this notice serves as a pre-enforcement notice and “Failure to comply with the directives, in furtherance of the Direction of April 20, 2016, within seven days from November 14, 2016 shall result in the imposition of appropriate sanctions”.

“The menace of unsolicited text messages has been a nightmare to several millions of subscribers and the Commission can no longer accept any excuses whatsoever from the network providers, Ojobo said in the statement.

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