NCC to fine telecom operators N5m for illegal renewal of data services

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By Oluwatobi Opusunju and Chinedu James

Service providers in Nigeria that automatically renew or carry out unwarranted renewal of data packages without the consent of subscribers risk paying a penalty of N5 million, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has warned.

The NCC said the unwarranted renewal was illegal as it preys on subscribers.

Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, while addressing consumers, telecom operators and other stakeholders at the first episode of NCC Consumer Conversation 2018, in Karu, Nasarawa State, near Abuja, said that the warning had become imperative because of the NCC was inundated with complaints from subscribers against service providers for breaching the existing laws on data renewal.

Danbatta, represented by Director of Northern Operations, Mrs. Helen Obi, said it had become imperative for the commission to impose the penalty because consumers’ complaints had risen to the level where the regulator must act decisively.

Last month the commission had warned operators to desist from the illegal act in a directive that Danbatta reiterated at the event in Karu.

‘‘The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, on the 21 May, 2018 issued a directive to all network providers to desist from carrying out automatic or unwarranted renewal of data packages without their consent. We have also directed that no mobile service providers should impose their services to consumers. ‘It is expected that they should obtain their consent.

‘‘There should be a written text by the network provider to the consumer requesting to know whether the consumer is interested in renewing the package, after that, the network provider must also repeat the process to ensure that the consumer understood the terms and conditions of the service and has given consent before automatic renewal.

“In a situation where the commission receives complaints from the consumer that he or she was short-changed, the Commission will take it up on behalf of the consumer because that will be a violation of directive.

‘‘The penalty for the violation will attract a N5 million for any service provider who defaults. And for everyday that the commission issues the sanction and the fine was not paid by the service provider, it will attract and additional N500, 000.’’

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