The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has
uncovered huge, forceful, and illegal deductions of customers’ airtime by
Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in various Value Added Service (VAS) offerings.
NCC described the development as a great disservice to the over 160 million active telecoms subscribers in the country and the industry as a whole, and has mandated several initiatives to tackle the menace.
These include comprehensive investigation and resolution process, the Do-not-Disturb (DND) facility, and the imposition of sanctions against breach.
The Commission explained yesterday that it is disturbed
by the persistent occurrence of the menace, despite the measures articulated to
NCC said its investigative audit was led its Compliance Monitoring & Enforcement Department, with participation from other departments such as the Technical Standards and Network Integrity (TSNI), Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB), Legal & Regulatory Services (LRS), and Licensing & Authorisation (L&A).
The telecoms regulator noted that the Audit team analysed subscribers’ Call Detail Records from MNOs and subscription logs from VAS providers over a period of two years, leading to the conclusion that a huge percentage of VAS services were not voluntarily subscribed for.
NCC said the audit team also found that some providers had implemented disingenuous mechanisms by which large numbers of innocent consumers were “forcefully” subscribed to VAS platforms, leading to regular deduction of their airtime without their consent.
The Guardian had reported some months back how illegal airtime deductions formed majority part of the over 13,880 abuses registered by subscribers against the MNOs.
Of the 13,380 complaints, billing issues accounted for 7,046 (51 per cent); Value Added Service issues followed with 1, 897 (14 per cent); SMS issues accounted for 1, 104 (8 per cent); Call set-up challenges recorded 1, 189 (9 per cent)