• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Congolese delegation understudies Nigeria’s telecom policy environment

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A delegation from the Congo-Brazzaville Telecommunications Regulations Authority (CTRA) recently visited the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on a benchmarking tour, to demonstrate faith in the operations and regulations of the commission.

This scheduled visit was to understudy the commission’s policies, practices, and programmes that have made it a model telecommunications regulatory authority on the continent and beyond.

The Congolese team led by Benjamin Mouandza, CTRA’s Network Director, spent three days at the NCC Head Office in Abuja, where it was exposed to key result-oriented regulatory activities, frameworks, programmes, and policies of NCC, with the objective to explore how such operational frameworks could be adapted by the African nation noted for its huge rainforest reserves.

In a letter written to Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, the Congolese regulator indicated interest to gain more insights into three areas of NCC’s regulatory activities, which include management of issues associated with Quality of Service (QoS), SIM Boxing and Call Masking, as well as telecom equipment type-approval process.

In response to the request, Danbatta accepted to host the team and further directed relevant departments of NCC, including Special Duties (SD), Technical Standards and Network Integrity (TSNI), and the Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement (CME) directorates to interact with the team to provide necessary information sharing that may be useful to the Congolese counterpart.

Addressing the CTRA team, Bako Wakil, NCC’s Director, TSNI, spoke on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) instituted by NCC on QoS and how these KPIs are measured and monitored by the commission toward ensuring improved service delivery to the Nigeria’s ever-growing telecoms consumers. He said this also helped to improve Quality of Experience (QoE) of the consumers.

On type-approval process, Wakil stated that the commission had developed a rigorous type-approval process to ensure that telecoms equipment, including terminal devices, manufactured in line with international standards and specifications are brought into the country.

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“NCC is serious about type-approval process like other processes, because non-type approved devices and equipment which are also not manufactured to international standards and specifications have negative implications for quality of service delivery on the networks,” Wakil said.

On call masking, measures the NCC had put in place to address the menace were addressed. Call masking is the practice of sending international calls to an operator but disguising the calls as if they were local by sending the calls on the local interconnect route with a local number in the national numbering plan instead of the original international calling number.

In a related presentation to the visiting team on SIM boxing fraud and efforts being taken by the NCC to tackle the challenge, Ephraim Nwokonneya, NCC’s Director, CME, spoke on the problems created by the fraudulent practice of SIM Boxing, including a threat to national security, loss of revenue to service providers and the government.

Additionally, he asserted the anti-competitive practices associated with such acts among licensees as well as the general economic implications so evident in revenue loss.

However, Nwokonneya listed solutions to SIM Boxing fraud from a regulatory perspective. These include being proactive and effective in monitoring and enforcement, collaboration with the industry and law enforcement agencies, capacity building through training and skill acquisition programmes, as well as the review of the Enforcement Regulations and enabling laws.

From the presentations, the scale of call masking and SIMBoxing has been on the downward decline in Nigeria while the number of complaints from subscribers on incorrectly displayed calling numbers has also reduced substantially.

The commission reaffirmed its strategic actions are taken on SIM Registration, National Identification Number (NIN), and the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) linkage policy. The NCC team informed the visitors that a maximum of four SIM numbers are permissible to be registered per subscriber per network requirement. This is another measure deployed by the NCC to tackle SIMBoxing which usually requires multiple SIMs to flourish.

“We have come to understand how the regulator in Nigeria has been handling some salient regulatory issues and matters in the country as it relates to telecoms. In the course of this visit, the experience has been very rich, we have learnt many things. We are more positioned now to replicate some of the things we have learnt in our telecoms market back home,” Mouandza said.

Over the years, the NCC has received delegations from telecoms regulators in Africa and this trend has remained a major boost for Nigeria’s global ranking as a model in telecommunications regulation.

According to the commission, these benchmarking visits have eloquently reinforced NCC’s leadership status in operational efficiency, collaborative partnership, and commitment to intra-African solidarity in the telecommunications sphere.