The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) recently launched a campaign to show its appreciation for subscribers’ continued patronage of telecommunications services in the country. The campaign, which is tagged, 2017 Year of the Nigerian Telecoms Consumers, was first launched in Abuja in March. Realising the strategic position of Lagos in the economic equation of Nigeria, the commission quickly shifted to the city last week where there was a mother of all launches. BODE ADEWUMI was there and writes on the milestone event.
IT was a gathering of telecommunications consumers, all big and small players in the sector, recently at the Lagos Flag Off of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) 2017 Year of the Nigerian Telecoms Consumers, where fresh interventions and regulatory insights on telecoms consumers’ right and protection were rolled out in the state.
More often than not, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Content Providers inundate subscribers with telemarketing and unwanted messages which subscribers did not bargain for.
Over time there is no choice or options to opt out, stop or control the kind of messages that you want to be receiving on your phone from your network providers. Attempt to solve this and other complains with the subscribers operators has been a tug of war for the over 154 million subscribers in the industry…
Since 20 months ago when Professor Umar Danbatta resumed as the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, redress on consumers experience in the sector has been on the front burner understanding that consumers made all the success stories telecoms sector has recorded in the nation’s economy since its liberalisation in 2001.
Hence, almost one year ago, Danbatta launched an 8-point agenda which drives the commission activities until 2020 and item no six on the agenda captioned, ‘Protect and Empower Consumers’ is focus on consumers in the industry.
In this regard, Danbatta mandated the Consumers Affairs Bureau of the Commission to ensure the protection of the rights, privileges and interests of telecommunications consumers, including the physically challenged groups, through adequate information dissemination programs, effective policies and strategies that promote effective and efficient telecoms service delivery.
This, however, gave birth to the national campaign of the Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer, which the commission flagged off in Abuja on March 15 and subsequently in Lagos, last week.
The Speaker, House of Assembly, Lagos State, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, Chief Officers and top management staff from Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Content Providers including large throng of telecoms consumers domicile in the state were at the Blue Roof of the Lagos Television in Agidingbi to endorse the industry regulator’s year of consumer campaign.
According to Danbatta, who quoted the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, in the first quarter of 2016, Lagos voice subscriber base stood at 19.04million representing 12.8 per cent of the country’s subscribers and 12.62 million internet subscription or 13.65 per cent.
“The state is a home to many of the key players in the telecommunications sector, so it is understandable that it has been selected as the flag off city after the major event in Abuja. The NCC 2017 Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer is remarkable because the consumer is center stage. We must also remember that these consumers together have made all the success stories we speak about possible in the telecom industry today.
“So, Telecom Consumer campaign focuses on the 2442 Do-Not-Disturb Service Code, the 622 toll free complaints line, Quality of Service, QoS and concerns about the Electromagnetic Field, EMF radiation.
“The rates at which consumers receive telemarketing and unwanted messages from Mobile Network Operators and Internet Service Providers would reduce drastically as consumers can now activate Do-Not-Disturb short code using the 2442 toll and forwarding unresolved complaints to NCC using 622 toll-free lines,” Danbatta said.
From a customer base of slightly over four hundred thousand in the height of NITEL’s glory, “we now have a combined subscriber base of over 150 million across the country. This boom and massive jump in mobile telephony have brought with it several challenges especially in terms of reliable service, network upgrade, expansion and maintenance, and increasing demand for CAPEX injection into the telecom industry.
“In the midst of these, the average consumer runs the risk of just becoming a number. This danger therefore means that the customer suffers of times in silence in the hands of the operators primarily in the areas of dropped calls, failed calls often called Call Set Up Success Rate (CSSR) among others. This is exactly why this year is dedicated to the consumer, he said.
The EVC said that two months after the national campaign was flagged off, there have been progress report in the activation of the ‘Do-Not-Disturb’ short code using 2442 facility. He said more than one million consumers activated the 2442 Do-Not-Disturb code within two months, while more subscribers reported their unresolved complaints using NCC’s 622 toll-free lines in the same period.
The NCC is charged with ensuring that the average consumer gets the best satisfaction possible from the use of the line he has acquired. Thus, mindful of the pains and challenges of a growing economy and a rapidly developing industry, NCC intends to strike a balance. A balance albeit in favour of the consumer who of times is at the receiving end.”
According to Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management, Mr Sunday Dare, the initiative was leveraging on the two key components of Improving Quality of Service (QoS); and Informing and Empowering Consumers.
According to him, already, NCC has deployed several activities in its strategic plan to run a successful year of the consumer campaign with the support of the operators.
“Our goal is to make the consumer experience of the average Nigerian better. The drivers of the NCC 2017 Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer are the 2442 Do-Not-Disturb Service Code, the 622 toll free complaints line, Quality of Service, QoS and concerns about the Electromagnetic Field, EMF radiation. These are the areas the information provided in the course of the campaign would focus on,” he said.
Mobile network representatives present at the flag-off campaign in Lagos took turn to share their stances on the consumer initiative; this however comes after the NCC had met with these operators on different occasions in Abuja on the subject matter.
They, however ,told consumers at the Lagos forum that the Do-Not-Disturb code is active on their networks and they have expanded their customers’ services networks in other to give adequate attentions to consumers’ complaints and challenges in shortest time and best service delivery without any need to complain to the regulator.
Some of the operators present and spoke at the forum include, MTN, GLO, Etisalat, Airtel, Smile, Ntel, Spectranet, among others, while advocacy associations including National Association of Telecoms Consumers,(NATCOM) Association of Licensed telecommunications Companies(ALTON), Association of Telecommunication Companies(ATCOM) among others.
The Lagos State House of Assembly commended the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for tagging 2017- Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumers which emphasizes the protection and education of telecom consumers.
Mr. Mudashiru Obasa, Speaker of the House of Assembly, who spoke during the Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumers Lagos flag-off in Ikeja, said NCC’s regulatory expertise has paid off in the industry that boasts of about 155million subscribers with about 20 million of them domiciled in Lagos.
Represented by Mr Tunde Braimoh, member representing Kosofe II Constituency in the House, Obasa said the state would support initiatives that will lead to consumers’ education and improved service delivery among operators. He said the House will not shy away from issues related to telecommunications activities and the stakeholders, because of the relevance to the affairs of the populace.
He said,“NCC has done very well with regards to issues on consumer protection and the regulatory initiatives that lead to improved quality service delivery to the people. As the representatives of the people, Lagos State House of Assembly will not shy away from telecoms activities, because they touch the affairs of our people.
“However, we are been inundated with petitions regarding issues in the industry which informed our desire for easier channels to communicate with the regulator in finding lasting solutions to these challenges. Having said that, it is commendable that NCC’s regulations have paid off; for without such, there wouldn’t have been improvement on quality of service. We believe that the theme for this campaign will further endear NCC as consumer friendly regulator,” he added.
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