Banks owe telecoms companies N17bn for USSD access, says NCC

ABUJA – The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) says commercial banks in the country owe telecommunication companies over N17bn for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data access.

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According to Prof Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman of NCC, this debt accumulated following the regulator’s suspension of its determination on USSD pricing in 2019.

Danbatta spoke at ATCON’s virtual forum, themed ‘Meeting the interests of government, consumers and telecoms companies in the era of Covid-19 and post COVID-19 pandemic for digital economy development’ on Thursday.

In order to protect the interests of consumers and support a robust telecommunications sector, Danbatta announced that it had revised the determination on the USSD.

The EVC noted that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, had already been briefed on the development with a view to ensuring a quick settlement of the debt.

Explaining the commission’s efforts at resolving consumer-related issues, he noted that when the commission introduced the Do-Not-Disturb code in 2015, less than 500,000 people activated the code.

There are now 22,722,366 lines on the DND, according to him.

Danbatta stated that 98 per cent of the total service-related complaints received from telecoms consumers within a 15-month period, spanning January 2019 to April 2020, had been successfully resolved by the commission.

Speaking on quality of service, Danbatta said, “The commission has monthly engagements with operators as well as quarterly industry working group on quality of service and short codes, and is currently monitoring 2G Key Performance Indicators, while the KPIs for 4G are being prepared.”

Meanwhile, the minister, Pantami, said that an executive order aimed at protecting telecommunications infrastructure across the country would soon be ready.

He explained that the executive order for protecting telecommunications infrastructure across the country which had been reviewed by the relevant authorities was awaiting presidential assent.

He said that his administration was committed to the protection of the right of consumers, most especially telecom consumers who were struggling at the hands of mobile network operators in the country.

Pantami said his ministry was harmonising the right of way charges based on agreement reached with the governor’s forum.

He called on MNOs not to compromise on the agreement by paying exorbitant RoW charges to state governments, adding that they should report illegal taxes to the ministry for appropriate resolution.

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