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NCC Warns Telecom Providers on Auto Renewal

The Nigerian Communications Commission has vowed to stamp out unwarranted auto-renewal of Value Added Services and data by telecom operators without the consent of subscribers.

This is as VAS providers in the telecommunication industry continue to clamour for a reinstatement of the auto-renewal option to services offered to network subscribers.

VAS providers under the aegis of Wireless Application Service Providers Association of Nigeria said many legitimate operators had generated no revenue since the NCC issued the directive this year.

While speaking at the first annual Nigeria Value Added Service stakeholders’ forum in Lagos, the NCC insisted that its decision to stop auto renewal of VAS was to protect consumers from forceful subscription, spam messages and fraudulent deductions.

While addressing the operators in the telecommunication industry, the Director, Compliance and Monitoring, NCC, Mr. Efosa Idehen, said investigations revealed that licensed VAS providers were colluding with unlicensed operators to forcefully subscribe consumers to unsolicited services.

According to him, the practice has resulted in the stealing of airtime of consumers and lack of trust in telecom providers.

He added that findings showed no correlation between the total number of subscribers VAS providers had on their platforms and the records with the MNOs.

Idehen said whenever subscribers requested a refund of their stolen airtime, the record of how the airtime was used was often not found.

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Addressing the operators, the NCC director said, “There are more bad eggs than good ones among you. Look inward and self-regulate your house. Come to us with clean hands.”

“It is the ability to auto-renew that makes forceful subscription lucrative. Once subscribers opt in, there is usually no way out for them. The aggregator framework for the industry will provide succour to this challenge,” he added.

The Head, Wireless Networks at the NCC, Anthony Ikemefuna, hinted that the unlicensed operators could be technical personnel working with the mobile network operators, adding that operators needed to check their workers in order to find a lasting solution to the menace.

The National Coordinator, WASPAN, Chijioke Ezeh, explained that the association was working internally to identify perpetrators.

He urged the commission to give a timeline for the completion of the process as many companies had shut down and sacked workers due to their inability to generate revenue.

Mobile value added services are products or services offered via a mobile platform such as short message service and multimedia message services.

These products/services that add value and offer mobile subscribers flexibility, convenience, assistance and other benefits from the mobile networks are also non-voice revenue streams for telcos.

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