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NCC Grants Telecom Companies Licence For $200m VAS Market

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The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has granted additional nine telecommunications companies, Value Added Services (VAS) aggregator licence o to deepen the VAS market.

The NCC board had considered and made recommendation that  I-Cell Media Limited, Nine Jojar Limited, 21st Century Technologies Limited, Nitro Switch Limited, HML Consulting Limited, Cognys Systems Limited, Perpetual Communications Limited, Mobile Intelligence Limited, and Iyke Jordan Limited be used with VAS Aggregator licence.

The companies would now compete in the over $200 million Nigeria VAS market controlled by the major four mobile network operators. Recently, NCC announced that it would harmonise and sanitise the short code system and ensure that those used for similar services are also similar.

Under the new system, code for checking airtime balance would be same for all the networks, likewise for data balance and other services. Current codes being used by the telcos would run concurrently with the new codes for 12 months and 12 months for VAS providers, after which the old would be phased out.

Meanwhile, the Commission said there was no going back on its ban of auto-renewal of telecoms services, which include VAS. This came on the heel of appeals by the VAS providers who claimed that their businesses have crumbled as a result of the ban.

Speaking at the recent VAS forum in Lagos, NCC’s director of enforcement and compliance monitoring, Mr Efosa Idehen, said ongoing investigations across the networks have shown rampant cases of forceful subscriptions. Many subscribers were being charged for services they never subscribed and that was because they were able to auto-renew such services.

He however, admitted that the audit also showed some VAS providers doing their legitimate businesses on the networks without subscribing for people forcefully.

He said the audit of the mobile networks’ systems was still ongoing and would be concluded by first quarter 2019, after which recommendations would be made and fresh decisions taken by the regulator. He urged WASPAN as industry association to do a self-assessment and weed out the bad eggs among them before the regulator takes its final decision.

NCC had issued Direction to Service Providers on forceful subscription of data services and Value Added Services (VAS) which directs service providers to desist from forceful/automatic renewal of data services without prior consent of subscribers. This has taken effect from May 21, 2018.

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