By Emmanuel Elebeke
The Nigerian Communications Commission announced that four million telecom consumers subscribed to the Do Not Disturb, DND, code between February and April 2017.
DND is the short code, STOP to 2442, generated by the commission to enable consumers stop unsolicited messages from mobile networks.
Head of Public Relations at the Nigeria Communications Commission, Mr. Reuben Muoka, who disclosed the DND numbers last weekend in Abuja said that the NCC has put a lot of effort in place with expectations that all the critical issues bothering consumers would be addressed.
Telecom related complaints
He said the greatest challenge Commission is facing is educating subscribers on the existence of various options available to them to resolve all telecom related complaints regarding services from telecom operators.
Meanwhile, there is apathy among subscribers towards the DND codesince its launch. At the beginning of the year only one million subscribers, out of the almost 150 million in the country, used the DND code. A majority of other subsrcibers are suffering and smiling, either because they are not aware of the code or they have not gotten around to using it.
The four million subscribers which represent over 150 percent increase, still has NCC on its toes considering that there are over 146 million connected phone lines.
The commission was, however, quick to point out that more people might be aware of the provision and choose not to subscribe. “Our objective is to make sure Nigerians are aware of that solution so that they can make use of them. If you do not want to subscribe, it’s your decision. But we want to bring to the notice of telecom subscribers that the solution exists and we believe that if they take a step they will have their challenges resolved.
“You could see that at the beginning of the year, only one million have subscribed to 2442, but by this time after the awareness project launch, up to five million have now subscribed, and we are not talking about those who know but do not want to subscribe. These are people that actually subscribed.”
Bringing an end to unsolicited text messages, will not be possible without the cooperation of the service providers. Our reporters in researching this story, sent a DND to two major service providers but kept on receiving unsolicited messages more than a week after subscribing to the DND.
Meanwhile, Muoka disclosed that the NCC has also launched 622, a toll free number where customers can lodge their complaints directly to the NCC. We also want to bring to the knowledge of Nigerians the existence of 622, toll free number, which when you have any complaint and you go to any of the service providers and they do not resolve the complaints, you can call NCC on 622.
“So, our challenge is to make people aware. That is why we have deployed all platforms: consumer outreach programmes, conversations, jingles, television appearances and adverts on national dailies.
Ordinarily, the thinking is that in this instance operators that defy the DND order should be penalised, to this Mouka said; “Usually, as a regulator, we do not run away from sanctions. One of the sanctions we did at the beginning of the campaign was to invite the service providers to know what the issues resulting to deterioration of services are and they made their reports known to us.
“Part of what we are trying to do is to publish performances of service providers as they do in various states because if we generalise, it may not be good as people can pot from one network to another.”
In addition to the awareness campaign, Muoka, who spoke during the launch of a music album, The Breaking News by NTA’s ICT reporter, Reuben Okala in Abuja said the Commission is creating what he called The NCC Conversation Initiative, using its zonal offices to go deep down the local areas to talk to people about the available services.
“The expectation is that before the end of the year, we would have educated the consumers well and empowers them because we believe that there are a lot of issues the consumers have today, which results from either their inability to access some services or are unaware of them.
“That is why we are focusing on the campaign and taking steps to make sure they enjoy these services. The complaint for unsolicited sms is very high and we have come up with a solution that when you send STOP to 2442, you will stop unsolicited sms. If you do not want to stop sms, we have options, if you want sms of a particular type, you can take any of the options that we have enlisted.”
On the album launch by the ICT journalist, he said, “I am surprised and equally excited that Reuben Okala, the ICT journalist we know who has made his mark in NTA is also a gospel musician. I was surprised when the news broke that he was going to launch this album, Breaking News.
“I thought it was breaking news of the media. He has showed that he is very close to God and has shown a perfect example that people can combine their jobs with gospel work.”