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November 16, 2012

Nigerian Communications Commission Bans All Telecom Promotions

By David Delony, Contributing Writer

The Nigerian Communications Commission has ordered all telecommunications operators in the country to stop promotions and lotteries immediately. The move comes after the NCC had apparently received complaints from consumers about the carriers. The carriers affected include Globacom, MTN, Intercellular, Visafone, Etisalat, Airtel (News - Alert) and Multilinks. The ban also extends to promotions and lotteries the Commission had already approved.

“The Commission has, in recent times been inundated with several complaints from consumers, Industry stakeholders against the various promotions offered by telecommunications operators,” Tony Ojobo, the Director of Public Affairs for the NCC, said. “The Commission is also mindful of its statutory responsibilities such as; to protect and promote the interest of consumers against unfair practices, promote fair competition in the industry by protecting Operators from misuse of market power and anti-competitive/unfair practices by other Operators.”

The promotions usually offer free minutes to mobile customers, but when they actually use them, it overwhelms the networks, causing degradations in service as customers try to use their minutes before they expire. Calls were also being made under tariffs that were below the country’s prevailing interconnect rate, and therefore, in the NCC’s view, anticompetitive.

The congestion made placing calls from one network to another difficult and the overall customer experience had been degraded.

“The Commission wishes to assure all Telecommunications consumers of its resolve to ensure that the quality of service offered across all networks is such that delivers value to the consumers,” Ojobo said.

The country’s National Association of Telecommunication Subscribers (NATCOMS) has also supported the move. “The move would free up network capacity and stop the current congestion on networks," NATCOMS head Deolu Ogunbanjo said.

“The Federal Executive Council approved the punitive measure in an attempt to force operators to improve services," told Bikya Masr, a news agency in Egypt.

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