The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has released guidelines that allows for National Roaming services among Mobile Network Operators, MNOs in Nigeria.
Riding on the provisions of section 70 of the commission’s enabling law, the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, the new guidelines posted on NCC website enables MNOs to have engagements on agreements for provision of national roaming services in the country with prior regulatory approval.
The guidelines stipulates that duly authorised service providers are required to request and negotiate National Roaming Agreements with each other on bi-lateral and non-discriminatory terms.
The process for the implementation of the new guidelines according to the framework released by the commission is that a telecommunications service provider requesting for National Roaming services shall be required to forward a dully filled Form A contained under Schedule1 of these Guidelines to the Roaming Provider.
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The guidelines set 15 days period within which the roaming provider shall respond to receipt of the roaming request and notify the roaming seeker of its acceptance by completing the relevant section of the Response to Roaming Request Form B contained under Schedule 1 of the Guidelines.
The guidelines stated, “Where the roaming seeker receives no response from the roaming provider within 15 days of its request, the roaming seeker shall immediately notify the commission in writing, and the commission shall take necessary steps to ensure the roaming provider responds to the roaming request.”
To ensure a level playing ground among MNOs seeking to implement National Roaming services, the guidelines stipulates that,”Parties shall thereafter enter into a Non-Disclosure Agreement and commence negotiations of the terms of the National Roaming Agreement. Parties shall conclude negotiations on the terms of the National Roaming Agreement and execute same within 60 days from receipt of the Roaming Request. Parties shall ensure that the National Roaming Agreement is submitted to the Commission for review and approval, prior to registration, within 14 days of execution by parties. If within 15 days from the date of submission the Commission does not act on the National Roaming Agreement, such shall be deemed approved and registered.”
NCC guidelines also indicates that once an agreement has been reached between the seeker and the provider, such agreement shall subsist for a period of three years.
The commission reserves the right to permit parties to renew the National Roaming Agreement for another three years while any further extension must be subject to NCC regulatory approval.
NCC noted that charges and rule of engagements for National Roaming services shall be carried out through bilateral negotiations in line with the provisions of the newly released guidelines.
The regulatory guidelines in consideration of National Roaming Agreements among telecom service providers made provisions for Dispute Resolution; Termination of Agreement; Provision of Subscriber Information among others.
The guidelines usher in full rollout of National roaming services in Nigeria. It would be recalled that NCC in 2020 carried out a successful trial of National Roaming services system on MTN and 9mobile networks.
The success of that trial metamorphosed into the implementation of the service with these new guidelines.