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NCC gets extension to comply with data cost directive

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, on Saturday extended the deadline given to the Nigeria Communications Commission to reduce the cost of data, and stop illegal deductions from subscribers by service providers.

The minister on Tuesday directed the commission to act on the directives within five working days.

A statement by the minister’s spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman, on Saturday explained that NCC sought the extension of the deadline in a letter forwarded to Pantami on Friday.

In the letter, according to the statement, NCC informed the minister that it had started taking steps to comply with the directive.

The statement did not specify the time-frame given to the commission to act on the minister’s orders, but it stated that the issues should be resolved “within the shortest time possible.”

The NCC intends to impose considerable financial sanctions on operators engage in illegal deductions.

Also, customers are to get refunds in established cases of illegal deductions.

The statement read in part, “Following the five-day ultimatum issued by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy to the Nigeria Communications Commission on November 5, 2019, to resolve the challenges of illegal data deductions and review the cost of data downward, the commission has risen up to the task and efforts are in top gear to carry out the minister’s directives.

“In a letter from the Executive Vice Chairman, received by the office of the minister on November 8, 2019, the telecommunications regulator intimated Pantami of the strategies being taken to stem the tide of short-changing subscribers by mobile network operators.

“In its earlier attempts to tackle the challenges, the commission informed the minister that it had issued a directive to all MNOs on the attendant penalties associated with Automatic Renewal and Forceful Subscription to Data and Value Added Services.

“The penalties include considerable financial sanctions on the erring operator.”

The letter sent to the minister by the NCC further stated that, in response to the directives, the commission had reviewed the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, on its rule-making powers and process.

“The commission is in the process of carrying out a study on the End-of-Session Notification for Data Services and depending on the outcome, may issue a direction in accordance with the Act.

“Furthermore, in a bid to protect consumers, the commission also notified the minister of their regulation of the initial directive to include refunds to the consumer in established cases of unauthorised subscription,” the statement added.

The NCC, in the letter, assured the minister that it was working round the clock to enforce the directives and requested an extension of the deadline to enable it properly re-strategise and fully implement long-term solutions to the challenges, as directed.

The statement said, “Pantami has graciously granted an extension with the understanding that the commission will resolve these issues within the shortest time possible.

“The minister assures the general public that the current administration will neither tolerate acts of injustice nor the short-changing of its citizens as it is working tirelessly to ensure that subscribers get full value for their money,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the telecommunication companies have insisted that they are not guilty of illegal deductions, adding that the rates they charge for data in the country was informed by the cost of production.