The Nigerian Communications Commission has met with the Wireless Applications Service Providers Association of Nigeria (WASPAN) and other relevant stakeholders in the industry at its first meeting of its Bi-annual Workshop on Value Added Services Stakeholders’ Forum held on September 4, 2018 at the BWC Hotel in V.I, Lagos.
The workshop was convened to look into the operations and activities of Value Added Service-Providers (VASP), a sub sector in the telecom industry that has enjoyed exponential growth and contributing hugely in terms of revenue to the industry and government.
The President of WASPAN, Chijioke Eze delivered a presentation on the development of VAS as innovative applications that add value to the overall ecosystem and, noted that VAS will be the future of telecoms prosperity. He stated that the VAS sub sector has experienced great challenges in terms of revenue sharing formula with the operators, whose infrastructure they depend on to deploy their services to their subscribers. He further noted that the VAS sub sector has unlicensed operators who benefit from the system by short changing it.
The Director Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement Department, NCC said: “Despite the usefulness of VAS applications to humanity, additional income to the industry and expansion of the industry which leads to employment and many other benefits, the VAS sub sector has its own negative impact of spam messages, auto-renewal, fraudulent deductions, forceful subscriptions and menace of bulk SMS and unsolicited SMS.”
At the workshop attended by DCM&E Department, Efosa Idehen and Head Technical Standards and Network Integrity Department, Bako Wakil as well Bashir Idris, Head Research and Development and other Management staff of the Technical Standards Department, presented the Commission’s position that auto-renewals must be stopped and forceful subscription must be stopped as well. The team declared that this is the Management position regarding auto-renewals and forceful subscriptions and the Commission will penalize any erring VAS Operator for failing to comply with extant regulations.
DCME, Idehen noted that the Consumer should have the power to decide when he wants to subscribe to a VAS Service and also when to renew subscription; auto-renewal/ forceful subscriptions deprive Consumers of that right.
He recalled that the Commission came up with the 2442 DnD Code/ help to 2442 to completely block or select the VAS services a subscriber wants, and this has reduced the menace of unsolicited VAS/ SMS received by subscribers.
Wakil, called on WASPAN to ensure effective regulation of the VAS sub- sector calling on the association to report illegal operators, comply to extant regulations and directives and embrace steady and regulated growth of the VAS sector. He noted that the Commission has over 200 database of VAS licensed operators in Nigeria.
He further stated that the Commission has reviewed the VAS framework Value Chain to ensure regulatory excellence and operational efficiency of VAS providers in the telecoms ecosystem.
The Workshop ended with a Question and Answer Session where participants raised observations, recommendations and suggestions on how to better/ collaboratively regulate the VAS provision in Nigeria.
The next workshop will be holding on December 11, 2018 in Lagos.