Telecoms subscribers have urged the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) not restrict its consumer protection in mobile devices to only type-approvals.
They lamented spending so much on buying fake mobile phone and blamed security and regulatory bodies for the influx of counterfeit mobile phones, which could be dangerous to their health.
A subscriber, who gave his name simply as Pius, said he had fallen victim of fake phones, which did not last. According to him, when he bought the smart phone, it worked for about three months after which it parked up. “I paid a fleeting visit to Lagos and decided to shop somewhere in Ikeja. I saw the phone, very beautiful and I fell for it. Three months after getting back to my station, the phone stopped working,” he said.
Another victim, Mrs Esther, a civil servant, said she had a horrible experience with counterfeited phone. “The phone was beautiful, but I didn’t buy it from a shop but by the roadside. I took the phone home, charged it for about four hours before I inserted my subscriber identity module (SIM) card. It worked well for about four months, after which it started misbehaving. The NCC could disconnect fake mobile phones from the network like Tanzania did some years ago. The Tanzania Communication and Regulatory Authority said the switch-off was also designed to protect users’ health. These fake handsets are not subjected to safety tests, emit more radiation and contain harmful elements, such as lead,” she said.
President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olushola Teniola, said the NCC has a responsibility for consumer protection and service providers’ network protection from use of sub-standard equipment in the telecoms industry.
“Type-approval provides a degree of certainty that equipment involved in providing consumer services are likely to provide a superior quality of service (QoS). So to this end, it is absolutely imperative for NCC to set standards that will ensure that compliance is adhered to by handset providers, equipment supplier and network operators.
“So, since a correlation exists in between equipment type approved by NCC and the level of QoS rendered, it is only logical that NCC focuses on reducing the number of fake/counterfeit phones that exists in the market. Currently, NCC should aim for less than 99 per cent of all phones to be type approved before they are allowed into the market,” he said in an emailed response.
The NCC has, however, advised telecom consumers to eschew patronage and usage of counterfeit handsets and other substandard mobile devices in the country.
Its Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the menace of counterfeit and substandard handsets has assumed a global dimension, which requires a lot of consumer education and collaboration with other government agencies. He advised telecoms consumers to check the Commission’s official website to find the list of type-approved phones from which they can make their choices of handsets to purchase.
He said: “Cases of influx and patronage of counterfeit handsets are more rampant in developing countries, such as Nigerians, where importers bring in substandard phones without recourse to regulatory type-approval process aimed at certifying such devices as fit for the market.”
He said the Commission, in collaboration with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and other government agencies, has inaugurated two committees to design modalities towards curbing the proliferation of substandard handsets in the country.