BY LAJU IREN
Nigerians were pleased to llearn of the directive of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC to telecom operators to introduce the Do Not Disturb (DND) code across their networks with effect from 30th June 2016.
Recall that the directive required all mobile network operators to dedicate a short code for use by subscribers to opt-in or out of the ‘Do Not Disturb (DND)’ database on their networks. The said short-code, 2442 was to become hypothetical helpline that would save Nigerians from unsolicited text messages and calls.
The DND fairy tale however, has not been a ‘happily ever after’ phenomenon. Months after the said directive was given to telecom operators by NCC, complaints about promotional and marketing messages from 3rd party services still exist.
This issue occupied the front burner at the 4th Quarter Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF) held in Lagos over the weekend. The Director General of the Consumers Protection Council,Mrs. Dupe Atoki while speaking on ‘The DND Implementation: The Consumer’s Perspective’ said that consumer awareness and enforcement by regulatory agencies are necessary to ensure full implementation of the DND.
“Two factors inhibiting the implementation of the DND service include lack of awareness and technical hitches,” she said. “While most Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have complied with NCC’s directive in setting up the DND facility on their networks, there exists the unwillingness or reluctance of the MNO’s to sensitise their subscribers on the availability of the facility and how to utilise same.”
“In some instances, the Do-Not-Disturb service suffered technical hitches as they failed to work as expected. In this respect, there are insinuations among consumers that the so-called technical hitches may be the MNOs ploy to deliberately frustrate consumers from making use of the DND service,” she added.
Speaking on the way forward, she said that efforts should be galvanised by NCC and the MNOs to bring to the knowledge of consumers the availability of the DND service and how to use same.
The CPC also stressed the role of enforcement. According to Atoki: “The CPC supports the imposition of punitive fines by NCC on MNOs that violate the Commission’s directive on the DND service. The Council’s position, however, is that the enforcement of the DND service should be stepped up by NCC to ensure that the MNOs comply fully with the directive in the interest of consumers.”