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NCC: Benefits of VAS highlighted and its challenges resolved at the 83rd Edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament

A cross section of participants at the 83rd Telecom Consumers Parliament, TCP, organised by NCC at the Digital Bridge Institute, Oshodi, Lagos, on Thursday, April 5, 2018.

The 83rd Edition of the Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP) was held at the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), Oshodi, Lagos, on Thursday, April 5,2018. The event, organized by the Nigerian Communications Commission, had the theme “Value Added Services and its Benefits to Consumers”

The event was attended by stakeholders in the Telecom industry, which include the consumers, NCC the regulator, service providers, consumer advocacy groups, etc.

In his opening address, the Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, NCC, stated that, the theme of the 83rd Edition of the Telecom Consumer Parliament, “Value Added Services and its Benefits to Consumers”, had earlier been discussed at the 82nd Edition of the event that was held in Abuja last year, but there was low participation of the targeted audience and VAS Service Providers, so, the NCC management thought it wise to repeat it in this Edition, because of its importance to the Telecom industry.

In her welcome address, Mrs. Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, stressed the importance of having the Telecom Consumer Parliament from time to time. She stated that, over the years, the Telecom Consumers Parliament (TCP) has continued to be relevant for the Telecom sector. “The Telecom Consumer Parliament, is a forum that interfaces the consumers with other stakeholders, especially, the Regulator and the Telecom operating companies”, she stressed. She emphasised that the aim is to discuss issues and proffer proper solutions to common current and emerging issues and challenges to the communication industry as well as the wider information and communication technology sector, which sits on the bedrock of the Telecom industry.

In his own delivery, Mr. Sunday Dare, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management, NCC, stated that the work of NCC, as a Regulator, when it comes to the provision of Value Added Services, VAS, is to strike a balance, by letting the consumers know the importance of the Value Added Services text messages that appears on their phones and also ensuring that nuisance and inconvenience nature of VAS from the operators to the consumers is stopped.

In his presentation at the event, Mr. Ayoola Oke, CEO, ICT Derivatives, listed some of the ways that the consumers can benefit from Value Added Services. These include areas such as health, inform of health tips, education, job seeking, ring tone variety, music, mobile advertising, devotional messages, entertainment, etc. He advised consumers not to put out a blanket Do-Not-Disturb, DND, facility on their phones, so they will not miss out on these important benefits, some of which they may desire to have.

A panel of discussants was constituted, moderated by Bukola Sawyerr Izeogu and comprising of representatives from MTN, 9Mobile, Airtel, Glo, Ntel, Smile, CPC, NCC and WASPAN. The discussion further enlightened the consumers on the benefits of VAS, the challenges that comes with it as well as how to resolve them.

At the end of the session, a 4 point communique was agreed by the attendees as follows:

  1. That the VAS providers should do more in terms of consumer education and enlightenment.
  2. That MTN is to investigate the allegation of a second charge on MTN back up services.
  3. That service providers are to adhere strictly to the directives on Do-Not-Disturb, DND, so that consumers who opt out of VAS services would no longer receive such messages after opting out and they will no longer be charged.
  4. That service providers should ensure a second level before a subscriber is opted in to a Value Added Service, through a follow up text message.

Alhaji Ismail Adedigba, Deputy Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, while giving his vote of thanks, appreciated everyone for participating and making the 83rd Edition of the Telecom Consumer Parliament, TCP, a success.

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