By Nkechi Isaac, Abuja –
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has named consumers as the driving force behind the phenomenal growth and development recorded in the nation’s telecommunication sector.
Speaking at the fifth zonal NCC Consumer Conversation Forum in Minna, Niger State, the commission’s head of zonal operation, Ms Helen Obi, said the commission in recognition of consumers’ role in the development of the sector declared year 2017 as NCC Year of the Telecom Consumer with the aim of protecting consumers’ interests and ensuring they get value for service.
She said: “The commission which is the independent regulatory authority for the telecommunications industry in Nigeria declared year 2017 as NCC year of the telecom consumer in recognition of the importance of the consumer to the phenomenal growth and development in the telecoms sector.
“The year of telecom consumer, which was formally launched by NCC Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Danbatta, is in tandem with the 8-point agenda of the commission aimed to protect, educate, and empower consumers towards ensuring sustainable growth and further development in the telecom sector.’’
According to her, “the consumer conversation is designed to educate and inform consumers about their rights and privileges with their telecom service providers. It is also an avenue to bring the commission’s activities closer to the consumers at the grassroots.”
She added that the commission articulated four strategic initiatives as key drivers of the consumer conversation which included activation of the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) service across all telecom networks.
“This service enables the consumer to stop receiving unwanted and unsolicited messages from telecom operators. A consumer is expected to send ‘STOP’ to 2442, if he/she intends to stop receiving all forms of text messages and to send ‘HELP’ to 2442 to be availed with all the options on areas of interest which the subscriber may wish to receive text messages,” she added.
The zonal head also urged consumers to feel free to use NCC toll free line 622 which enables them to report complaints pertaining to unresolved issues with their service providers, citing other commission’s areas of concentration as improving Quality of Service to reduce drop calls, poor reception and other telecom shortcomings.
She assured that the commission monitors and regulates QoS of mobile network operators (MNOs) regularly through key performance indicators (KPI) to ensure they have requisite infrastructure and skilled manpower to give consumers the best service at all times.
She further educated consumers at the forum on electromagnetic fields (EMF) radiation, stressing that telecom masts pose no health risk to those living around where it is stationed. She also urged them to help in safeguarding base station equipment from vandals, adding vandalisation of telecom equipment invariably affects QoS.
Fielding questions from participants on the high cost of data, Obi stressed that the commission had directed telecoms operators in the country to give a 14-day grace for subscribers to exhaust their remaining data after the 30 days expiration period.
“NCC has mandated all network providers to give their subscribers 14 days of grace after the 30 days expiration of their data if they still have data left and cannot recharge to get their data rolled over,” she said.
Speaking to journalists, a participant, Joseph Daniel, described the forum as a very good initiative, even as he urged the commission to continue with the enlightenment campaign for the benefit of consumers.
He said: “It is an eye opener because so many rights and platforms available to consumers which we were unaware of was revealed to us today. I sincerely appreciate the commission and I urge them to carry on with such initiative so other Nigerians will also be enlightened on how they can get the best service from service providers.”
Another participant, Eziefula Henry, said the forum addressed so many challenges consumers face with MNOs, adding it gave them the opportunity to further share their challenges with the regulator with the belief that it would be communicated to the telcos.