Aminu Maida, the executive vice chairman of Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), says that the commission has partnered with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and relevant security agencies to tackle telecommunication-linked crimes across the federation.
This is even as he said commission is considering the deployment of satellite broadband to provide the necessary coverage across the country and drive the attainment of the 70 percent Broadband penetration target by 2025.
Maida, who made the disclosure during an introductory meeting with the media on Tuesday in Abuja, also assured that the Commission was in the process of combating illegal Subscriber Identity Mode (SIM) in the country, noting that sanctions would be meted against identified culprits.
Speaking on network tariffs and other irregularities on the part of licensed network providers, the EVC said the Commission is equally collaborating with the industry players.
He however assured consumers of their loyalty, stressing that the NCC’s allegiance is first to Nigeria.
According to him, ‘We need to put smile back on the faces of consumers. NCC is clear on this; we need to protect the interest of consumers. They remain number one because that is where you extract values from. Yet, interest of licensed operators will also be protected while we put eyes on their activities to see the level of compliance.”
“Right now, there are certain exercise for compliance or enforcement which we move base from the schedule. If we build the capability whereby we are able to see things as they unfold, then it is no longer a schedule, it goes to where the problem is.
“That capability is what we are currently building and I intend to hold the operators accountable. We don’t need new regulation for that, it is already there but we are going to start with collaboration and hopefully, we can get wins from both sides.”
Adding: “Be rest assured that consumer is number one priority for us but I think we also need to understand that this is an industry that needs to attract investments, which means that the interest of the licensee as stated in the Act can so also be protected.
“What we need to find is how to we manage that delicate balance whereby the consumer is happy and the licensees can also get their return on investment, but number one is that the consumer has to be happy and right from the point where you are selecting the operator or service to use, it has to be seamless, when you are using it, it has to work, when you are engaging them for support, they have to be supportive.”
Maida also disclosed that the Commission intend to focus on second level complaint by monitoring licensees’ customer service systems.
According to him, that will enable the Commission to identify consumers’ complaints and the reason it takes long to address their issues.
“What we see today is just those second level complains, those are people who brought that compliant to us and you will agree with me that it is a small portion of the unhappy people because it is only those who even know that they can escalate to us that will come.n
While responding question on the issue of politicking around spectrum, Maida stated it is a national resource and not manned by NCC.
“NCC takes directives from the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), the apex body for spectrum management in the country. It is a council which has various stakeholders including the NCC and Chaired by the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, who is the representative of the President.
Speaking during the meeting with ICT reporters, the EVC said that Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have indicated commitment to simplify their tarrifs to enable Nigerians know what they are signing up to whenever they are purchasing data adding that the commission is considering initiating a regulation that will formalize simplicity of tarrifs by MNOs.
The Executive Commissioner Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Ubale Maska explained that the country is not where it should be in terms of broadband penetration and quality of service due to incessant vandalization of telecommunication infrastructure in the country adding that major operators suffer 70 cable cuts on daily basis across the country while some fibers are broken during road construction projects adding that all these are affecting quality of service.
He stated that investments on Fibre optic network is not coming as expected due to economic situation in the country and the commission is considering deployment of satellite broadband to provide the necessary coverage across the country and drive the attainment of the National Broadband target.
On why people are still having challenges after linking their SIM with their NIN, the Director, Compliance Monitoring & Enforcement, NCC, Efosa Idehen said, “Before the linkage, there was a SIM registration and by 2021 when we launched NIN-SIM linkage, the previous ones were considered as Legacy SIMs, we told Nigerians to link up their SIM to their NIN.
“NCC recently directed Telcom operators to deactivate any SIM that is linked to NIN,that enforcement notice is still on, we are working at the background, what we discovered was that the background most times, the pcture quality of the of legacy SIM did not match the definition in our new SiM registration of 2021.
“Initiallly, they were barring them but now, just invite you to come and update your data because we want to be sure that whoever is holding a SIM is the owner of that SIM,the issue of illegal registered Sim card is still there and we are working assiduously to reduce the occurrence to the barest minimum so that Nigerians can sleep with their two eyes closed.”
The EVC also warned that by the end of February, most SIMs not linked to National Identity Number (NIN) will be deactivated and thereby, cease to work.
He said, ‘Pre-registered or illegally registered SIM has been a challenge for a long time. In 2021, there was a policy to link NIN with SIMs thinking that such will take care of the problem but people in the value chain lashed on loophole. By the end of this month, SIMs without NIN will no longer work”.