‘VAS operators add N30 billion to economy’

Garba Danbatta

Garba Danbatta

NCC to provide subsidy for InfraCos

Activities of Value Added Services (VAS) providers in the telecommunications sub-sector have added about N30 billion to the Nigerian economy within the last few years.

This figure was given by the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Danbatta, on Monday in Abuja.

Danbatta, who said VAS operations have also created jobs in the sector, however, informed that the commission will continue to enforce proper regulations that would prevent telecommunications subscribers from being cheated by service providers in the country.

The EVC informed that already, a rule of engagement is in existence between Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and VAS operators, which help to ensure that none of the parties infringed on the right of the subscribers.

Danbatta said the commission will continue to regulate the activities of VAS operators in the country, especially in the area of unsolicited text messages, which have become a menace in the industry.

Danbatta, who reiterated that better regulation of the operations of VAS providers has become highly essential to keep the sub-sector going, said “so far, it will interest you to note their operations have added about N30 billion to the economy.”

Indeed, the exponential growth in the Nigerian telecoms industry in the last 13 years gave rise to the evolution of VAS, where its operators provide support communications services to subscribers, via the smartphone. They provide plethora of services such as news breaks, ring back tunes, telemarketing, mobile entertainment, flight information, among others.

But of late such services are becoming a nuisance to telecoms subscribers as they constitute unethical practice, forcing unsolicited text messages on subscribers and compulsorily billing them for the services.

At the media interaction on Monday, NCC’s Head of Enforcement and Monitoring, Efosa Idehen, disclosed that the commission had served MNOs notice to enforce the ‘Do Not Disturb’ code 2442 on their networks.

Idehen informed that the NCC’s directions are to the MNOs, stressing that the Service Level Agreement (SLA) between network operators and VAS providers is binding to ensure that subscribers are not cheated and disturbed unnecessarily.

According to him, the commission has also directed MNOs to put a sort of filter on their networks to prevent subscribers from been bombarded with unwanted SMS and calls.

He disclosed that the commission, which has been inundated with avalanche of complaints from subscribers regarding forceful activation of VAS by service providers without their consent, would monitor the networks and sanction when the need arises.

According to NCC, VAS license is for a period of five years in the first instance, renewable on equal termsupon fulfillment of the requirements for renewal which includes but not limited to the
license terms and conditions/obligations.

Meanwhile, the commission has restated its commitment to provide incentives for Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) licensed and those to be licensed to help them have wider distribution of services across the six geo-political zones of the country.

Danbatta said there is provision for subsidy for InfraCos, but declared that it will be monitored adequately to guard against abuse.

The commission had promised tax holidays for investors and added that government will encourage InfraCos by providing financial incentives but would not have any shares in any of the companies.



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