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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bail out: NCC yet to receive industry memo

... Insists SIM registration is once

Apex telecommunications regulator in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that despite the media reports that Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector needs bail-out, it is yet to receive any formal request to that effect.

This is coming as NCC has allayed the fears of multiple registrations of Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards by telecom consumers in the country, saying that subscribers can register only once.

Reviewing the industry, last week in a chat, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Eugene Juwah disclosed that none of the operating companies or industry interest groups have really come out literally to demand for the bail-out.

He advised whosoever agitating for bail to come upon and take the necessary steps to ensure due process.

“Its better for the agitators to come up with convincing facts,” he said, adding that NCC is ready to do its part whenever such facts are made available to the Commission.

He explained that it’s a process to get actualized, especially in policy formation, pointing out that its left for the agitators to convince NCC on this premise, the Commission could now take such facts to the Federal Ministry of Information and Communication, who are the custodian of government policies.

Juwah noted that is now left for the Minister in charge to take up from there to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), from where if it’s accepted becomes a policy of the government and budget then allocated to it.

On the probable confusion over where telecom subscribers should register their SIM cards; whether operator set up registration desk or NCC, Juwah allayed the fears of multiple registrations of Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards by telecom consumers in the country, saying that subscribers can register only once.

Putting to rest the fears on whether subscribers who registered their SIM cards with their network operators must re-register with the on-going SIM exercise, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, declared that SIM registration is only relevant for one of exercise.

Juwah said that there is no need to panic over not registering with any of the seven accredited registrars by NCC, especially if the telecom consumer has previously registered with his or her operator.

According to him, once a subscriber has registered, there is no need to register again the same SIM, stressing that all the databases, both of operators and NCC would be merged into one for the use of the nation and public good.

“SIM card registration is once. Once you have filled the form and get your SIM registered, you don’t need to register again,” he asserted.

He advised those who are yet to register their SIMs to make haste while the sun still shines, noting that the current exercise would end in September with some penalties for non-compliance.

“Eventually they will be gathered to a centre. Though the exercise will end in September all will be put into a database,” he assured.

Some of these penalties include placing such a subscriber on receiver only and outright denial of services by the operators.

On the provisions made to accommodate rural dwellers in the exercise, Dr. Juwah said that the accredited registrars have a duty to extend these services to the rural communities, mostly when their agreement involves that they are paid based on the number of registrants recorded at the end of the programme.

Juwah, who solicited community support for the accredited SIM card registrars, urged rural dweller to take advantage of the exercise to get their SIMs registered.

Also speaking on the increasing low quality of service (QoS) across the networks, Juwah noted that no doubt, the loads on the various telecom networks have increased.

He highlighted the fact that telecom operators need to improve on the quality of service by investing more, although he noted that the dwindling QoS cannot be solved overnight, Juwah insisted that by making more investment on the networks, things would change for the better.

This, he said, has steps that must be taken to meeting up with the requirement so as to improve the quality of service, including meeting up the environmental assessment, which takes about nine months to accomplish.

Operators, he said, must plan ahead of time to alleviate the suffering of telecom consumers.

“We are monitoring the operators independently to be sure that they improve and penalize them appropriately,” he said.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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