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NCC Tackles Google Over Free Wi-Fi

NCC Tackles Google Over Free Wi-Fi

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Investigations by the Nation revealed that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the regulatory body for telecommunications in the country, has reported global internet giant, Google, to the Federal Government for evading regulatory oversight in its bid to expand its ‘free’ Wi-Fi deployment in Nigeria.

Google is currently rolling out the ‘free’ Wi-Fi service in Lagos and Abuja with plans to expand to other locations in the country, a development that has caused great concerns in the industry because of the threat to the investment made by existing telecoms operators and privacy issues occasioned by the internet giant’s mode of operation.

A letter from NCC to the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) under the Office of the Vice President, sighted by our correspondent, indicated that Google may be illegally providing its ‘free’ Wi-Fi in the country under obscure conditions that put it beyond regulatory purview.

The letter, signed on behalf of NCC’s Executive Vice Chairman by the Executive Commissioner (Stakeholder Management), Mr. Sunday Dare, reported to the Office of the Vice President (PEBEC) that “Google is operating in Nigeria without being licensed by the Commission with the implications that it does not pay applicable fees, levies and taxes that are paid by other players in the telecommunications sector.”

It further revealed that “There are several other irregularities in the structure under which Google presently provides its free public Wi-Fi for which the Commission requested it to provide information that will clarify certain issues that have cropped up in the course of trying to streamline its usage of Short Message Service (SMS) for user authentication.

“Google has till date failed to provide the requested information, which has stalled efforts to resolve the issues,” the letter noted.

Other shortcomings the Commission reported to PEBEC included Google’s failure to pay its Nigerian partners that it had presented as licensees of NCC and dealing with companies illegally providing SMS services.

Internationally, Google has come under scrutiny over privacy issues and the way it handles the user data collected through its Android mobile operating system, an array of applications and more recently its ‘free’ Wi-Fi.

 

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