Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has barred mobile number operators from sending out unsolicited text messages to subscribers, according to information obtained from the Legal and Regulatory Services Department regulatory authority.
Consequently, network operators in the country have up till June 30, 2016 to stop sending unsolicited Short Message Service or calls to subscribers or face a N5 million fine if they failed to comply with the directive.
A further N500, 000 per day also awaits the operators for as long as the contravention persists.
The document, which was obtained on Sunday, showed that a total of 13 MNOs were issued with the directive. They include: MTN, Airtel, Smile, Etisalat, Globacom and Visafone.
Others are Starcomms, Megatech Engineering Limited, Gicell Wireless Limited, Danjay Telecoms, Gamjitel, Multilinks and Natcom.
They were asked to set up the shortcode of 2442 for subscribers to opt-in to the “Do Not Disturb” (DND) database restricting unsolicited marketing messages.
According to the commission, it shall be mandatory for mobile operators to create sufficient awareness to its subscribers on the existence of the DND on their networks; that they shall also comply with the quarterly and reporting template prescribed by the NCC to ensure feedback and compliance.
NCC warned operators that generated SMS shall comply with the 8am to 8pm stipulation (12 hour period) for sending SMS to subscribers and that the opt-in process shall be free.
It said operated generated SMS is excluded from the DND list in as much as such messages are in conformity with NCC’s directive on timing and regularity and do not constitute a nuisance to subscribers and the subscribers shall have right to partial or full DND implementation.
NCC said the ‘New Direction’ issued pursuant to Section 53 of the Nigerian Communications Act follows the inundation of complaints by subscribers to its office about menace of unsolicited text messages and voice calls from mobile operators which have impacted negatively on consumer quality service in the telecom industry.
NCC said it was aware through its monitoring activities that some operators have set up DND facility on their network but the awareness by subscribers of the facility is very minimal and unsatisfactory. The menace of unsolicited texts and calls led NCC a fortnight ago to regulate the Value Added Services (VAS) market with the issuance of draft regulation.