The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has given a directive to the telecommunications service providers in the country, the operators will from July 1, 2016, activate the ‘Do Not Disturb’ (DND) facility which gives subscribers the freedom to choose what messages to receive from the various networks.
With this directive, the operators have been mandated to dedicate a common short-code (2442), which will enable subscribers take informed decisions.
The NCC had on April 19, in a letter, which emanated from its Legal and Regulatory Department and directed to the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), given them till June 30, 2016 to stop sending unsolicited Short Message Service (SMS) or calls to subscribers.
But the directive seems not to be adhered to by operators which prompted the NCC to issue another warning last week.
The Director, Public Affairs,Mr. Tony Ojobo had stated in a statement, that in spite of earlier warnings to telecommunication service providers to activate their Do-Not-Disturb facility which gives subscribers the freedom to choose the messages they receive, the Commission is still inundated with complaints by subscribers of continuing text harassment by operators.
The Direction issued to industry operators to activate the 2442 Do Not Disturb Short Code took effect from July 1, 2016. Ojobo explained that the Direction mandates the operators to take immediate action which will allow the subscribers to take informed but independent decisions on what messages to receive from the networks.
He observed that industry compliance doesn’t seem to have matched the seriousness of the Direction thus, compelling the Commission to issue a final warning to the operators.
According to him, the Direction takes into cognizance the broad range of services, which include: Banking/Insurance/Financial products, Real estate, Education, Health, Consumer Goods and Automobiles, Communication/ Broadcasting/ Entertainment/ IT, Tourism and /Leisure, Sports, Religion (Christianity, Islam, others), and directed the operators to give the necessary instructions and clarifications that will enable subscribers subscribe to a particular service/services/none at all.
In fact, a Full DND which is SMS ‘STOP” to 2442 does not allow the subscriber to receive any unsolicited messages from the operators at all.
Below are the various options:
“SMS 1” for receiving SMS relating to Banking/Insurance/ Financial Products to 2442
“SMS 2” for receiving SMS relating to Real estate to 2442
SMS 3” for receiving SMS relating to Education to 2442
“SMS 4” for receiving SMS relating to Health to 2442
“SMS 5” for receiving SMS relating to Consumer Goods and Automobiles, to 2442
“SMS 6” for receiving SMS relating to Communication/ Broadcasting/ Entertainment/ IT, to 2442
“SMS 7” for receiving SMS relating to Tourism and Leisure to 2442
“SMS 8” for receiving SMS relating to Sports to 2442
“SMS 9” for receiving SMS relating to Religion to 2442
Ojobo called on the service providers to immediately comply with the Direction as further complaints from the subscribers would be taken as serious infractions to a major regulatory intervention by the Commission.
However, subscribers have continued to vent their anger on such unsolicited messages adding that they never knew their were ways to stop the unsolicited messages and calls.
A resident of Abuja, Steven Kaka stated that h had lost an important job interview due to the unsolicited calls he had always received from its network operators and called on NCC to ensure that it’s directive were followed to later.
“ There was this number that always calls me and when I pick it, it was always from Glo telling me of their services and what not. So this faithful day, a number called, I saw it and thought it was that same number an ignored the call. Lo and behold, I later discovered that it was another number and that I had missed a job interview for not picking that call,” he said.
For Sam Eteh,a commercial driver, in Abuja, his network providers has bombarded him so many calls that he had to save the numbers in his contact with the names of th providers.
“It make it easy for me. When I get I call and see that it is one of them, which I have saved in my contact list, I do not pick. I am not interested in whatever they are saying. Sometimes, they block important calls from coming in,” he said.
Eteh added that while he has gotten a way to take care of unsolicited calls, he was yet to find a way to block text messages, that come in whether the subscribers like them or not.
This is consistent with the NCC which had stated that the awareness by subscribers of the availability of the DND facility on the MNOs network and how to opt into the facility was very minimal and unsatisfactory.
Nigerians who spoke with LEADERSHIP expressed hope that NCC directives will be followed by mobile operators so as to safe subscribers from the disturbance of unsolicited text and manages.