Umar Danbatta, the executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reeled out efforts of the commission towards promoting fair competition and inclusive growths in the Nigerian telecoms industry.
Speaking at a parley with media chief in Abuja, the NCC boss discussed the commission’s proactive intervention in nipping the cases of call masking and call refiling in the bud.
According to him, in the wake of 2017, the Commission started receiving complaints about cases of call masking/call refiling and SIM boxing, which were an anti-competitive practice and a threat to national security.
Working with the Office of the National security Adviser (ONSA), he said the commission took drastic actions to identify culprit licensees, sanctioned them accordingly and barred mobile numbers identified to have been involved in masked calling from their networks.
NCC also went further to carry out a Proof of Concept (PoC) which led the mobile network operators (MNOs) in the country to developed technology solutions to prevent, detect and filter masked calls on their networks.
Similarly, he said the commission’s regulatory interventions in the area of issuance of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) Short Code to banks and Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) have helped in deepening financial inclusion.
Danbatta recalled that to further ensure fair play between the MNOs and the banks regarding applicable charges for USSD, the Commission in July 23, 2019, issued a Determination for USSD Pricing.
He said, “The Determination defined a USSD session as 20 seconds, the price floor per USSD session is N1.63k, while the Price cap per USSD session is N4.89k.
“As you may be aware, an attempted commencement of the end-user billing by the MNOs for USSD usage was greeted by public outcry, necessitating a temporary suspension of the provision of the USSD determination by the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, pending when there would be proper understanding among stakeholders.
“However, the NCC has revised the USSD determination putting an end to a protracted dispute between MNOs and financial institutions on the applicable charges for USSD services and the method of billing.”
In addition, he said the Commission also determined that MNOs must not charge the consumers directly for the use of USSD channels for financial services in the form of end-user-billing.
“Rather, the transaction should be between the MNOs and the entity to which the service is provided such as banks and OFIs.
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, I am sure you are aware that the efforts of the Commission, through its firm regulatory approach and foresight, also culminated in the listing of telecoms companies on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
“I am proud to say that the telcos’ listing has helped to translate into action an important objective of the Commission, which is to promote indigenous investment and ownership in the telecom sector.
“Since their listing, the quoted telecoms companies have been keeping the Nigerian bourse upbeat and bullish with prospects for more listings in the future,” he stated.