Again, Pantami goes after telcos for extorting subscribers – Orders deactivation of automatic voicemails

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has again put the squeeze on Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to stop further exploitation of subscribers through the automatic activation of the voicemail service on their platforms.

The voicemail service should be optional on operators’ platforms, by law. But in practice, it has historically been offered as a mandatory call feature by MNOs resulting in loss of millions of call units by subscribers to the advantage of operators.   

A worried Pantami described the trend as “financial exploitation by Mobile Network” in an official statement released this morning in Abuja and signed by his spokesperson, Mrs. Uwa Suleiman The practice has gained momentum in recent times, said the minister as he ordered that it be stopped with immediate effect.

“The Voicemail service should be accessed at the discretion of the subscriber and not by default. The Honourable Minister finds it worrisome and totally unacceptable, that telecoms subscribers incur financial charges, for a service they are compelled to use by default. Voicemail is not a popular service among mobile phone users in Nigeria, coupled with the language challenge among rural dwellers, who mostly do not understand the language deployed by these networks,” said the statement.

According to the statement” “Dr. Pantami has issued a broad policy directive to the sector regulator Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to immediately ensure that issues regarding automatic voicemails are addressed on all existing phone lines and It is apparent, that the recent clampdown on the exploitative activities of some Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country, has beamed the searchlight on the sector properly, and some unpatriotic elements in the system are devising subtle, ingenious methods of defrauding Nigerians.

“The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy under the current leadership of Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), will neither overlook any acts, regardless of how subtle, that undermine the Anti Corruption Crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari nor condone any attempts to defraud Nigerians and indeed, all subscribers.

“In the light of this, the subscribers [must be] given the option of accessing the service via an activation code.”

Since assuming office, Pantami has initiated series of actions to curtail abuses targeting consumers in the telecommunications sector including the pricey nature of data which government deemed to be exploitative.

“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the rights of consumers are protected, while providing a conducive business environment for MNOs, in line with global best practice,” added the statement.

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