" ITREALMS: Validity: NATCOMS may drag Starcomms to court

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Validity: NATCOMS may drag Starcomms to court


The National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) may have concluded plans to drag a Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Starcomms Plc to the law court if by August 31 the operator did not remove its mobility validity on the network to zero.

A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) specializing in the protection and upholding the rights of telecommunications consumers in the country and spearheaded the successful switch-off campaign on Friday, September 19, 2003, clamouring for reduction in the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) tariffs and better services.

ITRealms Online recalled that at the 48th edition of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)-organized monthly Telecom Consumer Parliament, which held Friday, August 1, 2008 at the Excellence Hotel, Ogba, Lagos State, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, noted that his office was inundated with complaints about Starcomms and other mobile operators who cut off or deny their subscribers access to services on their networks, claiming that there was no or sufficient airtime validity on a given line.

Airtime validity according to some of the operators’ definition entails that subscribers must have a given period upon which to use up their airtime loaded on their mobiles and after such a time the airtime loaded, if not used up, automatically become forfeited which in most cases last between one week and two weeks.

Also, if a subscriber does not have valid airtime for a period such users in some networks like Starcomms cannot receive calls or even Short Messaging Service (SMS).

Speaking to ITRealms Online in an exclusive chat last weekend, NATCOMS National President, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, said his group would drag Starcomms precisely and allied to court first for cheating on Nigerian subscribers and secondly and most importantly for disregarding NCC directive to stop with such routine.

According to him, prior to the upcoming anniversary of the Telecom Consumers Parliament for this year billed for this Friday, August 29 at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, NATCOMS intends having a special session with NCC to streamline other issues on board with top on the agenda being the compliance or otherwise of Starcomms and cohorts on the removal of mobile validity.

“We would hold meeting with NCC before the session and we intend to ask them directly as regulator if Starcomms has complied, otherwise we’re going to the court on September 1,” Ogunbanjo declared.
He reiterated that it is not a mere threat, wondering why some of the telecom operators would choose to disobey the regulator like NCC with international repute.

“I can’t understand why Starcomms has been arrogant to NCC directives among others,” he decried, adding that it is disheartening but NATCOMS is not relenting in its resolve to take court action against them after the aforementioned meeting.

He insisted that last February, NCC had given a similar directive to Starcomms during the monthly telecom consumer parliament and it was surprising to learnt that months later, the operator is yet to comply.

Noteworthy is that NCC boss gave the latest directive following a complaint brought before the parliament by a lady Starcomms subscriber, and said that such excuses do not hold waters any longer, especially when the person in question has airtime on his or her mobile lines.

He warned Starcomms sternly alongside any other operator enjoying such undue privilege whether on the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) or the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operators, to stop forthwith.

As said by him, NCC may be forced to wield the ultimate stick of sanction on mobile operators who refused to adhere to this no validity on mobile directive.

“Don’t restrict them, because it is their money and they should be able to use it as at when they like,” he warned.


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