The Nigerian Communications Commission has met with the Wireless Applications Service Providers Association of Nigeria (WASPAN) and other relevant stakeholders of the industry at its 2nd meeting of its 2018 Bi-annual Workshop Forum on 18 December 2018. The first event was held on September 4, 2018 at the same venue as the second, at BWC Hotel in V.I, Lagos.
The workshop was convened to deliberate operations and activities of Value Added Service-Providers (VASP), an important and growing sub sector in the telecom industry that has enjoyed exponential growth and contributing hugely in employment and revenue to the industry to the tune of 79 Billion Naira (220 million U.S Dollars) as at 2018 and is expected to generate 500 Million Dollars by 2021, experts of the industry forecast.
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 wealth creation. He stated that the VAS sub sector has experienced great challenges in terms of revenue sharing formula with the operators, on whose infrastructure VAS Providers deploy their services to their subscribers. He further noted that the VAS sub sector has unlicensed operators benefiting from the system without adding much value to it.
The Director Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement Department, NCC, Efosa Idehen stated that: “Despite the revenue and employment generated from VAS businesses; the VAS sub sector has its own challenges of spam messages, auto-renewals, fraudulent deductions, forceful subscriptions and menace of bulk SMS and unsolicited SMS and these must be stopped to ensure regulatory compliance.
DCME, Idehen noted that NCC must give a Consumer the power to decide when he wants to subscribe to a VAS Service, when to renew subscription and when to opt out of it. Auto-renewal/ forceful subscriptions deprive Consumers of that right and therefore must be stopped.
He stated that to have the consumer decide what he wants, the Commission came up with the 2442 Do-not-Disturb Code/ help to 2442 to completely block or select the VAS services one may wish to subscriber to, and this has reduced the menace of unsolicited VAS/ SMS received by consumers of telecom services.
Head Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Bako Wakil, called on WASPAN to ensure effective compliance to regulations of the VAS sub- sector calling on the association to report illegal operators, comply to extant regulations and directives and embrace steady 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 delivery in Nigeria.
Other speakers from the NCC included:
Head, Quality of Service(NCC), Engineer Edoyemi Ogoh and Engineer Tony Ikemefuna, Head, Fixed Networks and Converged Services.
The Workshop ended with a Question and Answer Session where participants raised observations, recommendations and suggestions on how to collectively regulate the VAS provision in Nigeria.