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NCC to enable sustainability in special numbering service

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The Nigerian Communications Commission said it plans to enable sustainability, profitability and fair competition in the Special Numbering Service (SNS) segment of the telecommunication sector.

This action influenced the commission’s decision to hold a Stakeholders’ Forum on the determination of call termination rates for SNS Providers in Nigeria.

The meeting held at the Conference Room, NCC Head Office in Abuja on 16 November 2021 had representatives of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Special Numbering Service (SNS) providers and telecom stakeholders in attendance.

Yetunde Akinloye, Director, Policy, Competition and Economics Policy at NCC, while addressing the attendants stated that the meeting was organised through the effort of the committee set up by NCC to look into the complaints coming from the SNS segments of the telecommunication sector.

“This meeting is convened to discuss issues pertaining to the SNS segment of the Nigerian telecommunication market. Statutorily, the NCC is the custodian and manager of the toll-free and non-toll-free numbers licenses, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Akinloye said.

Speaking on the limited nature of numbers in the sector, the Director emphasized that NCC as the regulator was charged with the duty to ensure that numbers are utilized by licenses in a way that ensures sustainability and gives value to the final consumers.

“The SNS has been in existence for the past 15 years, with some licensees actively engaged in the segment. However, we have noted some observations and complaints from different quarters on the use of these numbers. We have observed, for instance, that there has been no effective utilisation of the numbers” she added

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According to her, the commission observed that the uptake of numbers has been very poor contrary to NCC expectation as the regulatory body and have also received complaints about the high rate and charges by MNOs which have led the NCC to come up with a committee to embark on a thorough review of the market segment, research similar market in order jurisdiction for benchmarking and determine the appropriate call termination rate through investigation, consultation and stakeholder engagement.

Bako Wakil, Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity at NCC who also spoke during the meeting stated that the SNS segment of the sector has not been maximised fully due to the cost elements involved.

He noted that there will be greater benefits and a way of making people use the service more if the cost can be reduced.

“In the last 15 years of introducing SNS providers, there are less than 3,000 people using the service and yet, we have licensed an additional number of players in the segment. Therefore, we are looking at profitability, sustainability and vibrancy of the Value-Added Service segment,” he said.

However, after hearing from representatives, a new date was fixed for the stakeholder’s forum while the second meeting will be on 14 December 2021 and the NCC encouraged stakeholders to submit additional inputs and send them to the commission for assessment by 30 November 2021 before the meeting.