Monday, October 03, 2011

SIM card: NCC opens new window, shuts Cobranet

*Minister, Communication Technology, Mrs. 'Bola Johnson

Telecommunications regulator in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has commenced the collation and harmonization of all existing registered Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards nationwide with a window for accommodating more subscribers.
This came as NCC sealed up the corporate office of an Internet Service Provider (ISP), Cobranet, for violation of frequency regulations in Lagos at the weekend.
Just as this follows the end of a six-month countrywide SIM registration exercise, which began on March 28, 2011 and came to a close last Wednesday, September 28, this year.
Head, Media & Public Relations, NCC, Mr. Reuben Muoka, who confirmed these development said that the registration exercise was undertaken through NCC appointed SIM Registration consultants in each of the six geopolitical zones, including Lagos; and the telecom service providers.
According to him, given the vast geographical spread of the country, and the logistics involved in the registration exercise over the past six months, there is need for proper harmonization of the data in line with the specifications issued by the Commission.
He also said that the harmonization process would involve the collation, reconciliation, cleaning, and consolidation of the captured data into a central data infrastructure for efficient management of Nigeria’s subscriber data base.
Commending the nation’s telecom subscribers for participating actively in the SIM registration exercise, he noted that a new window of opportunity is now open for those who have not yet registered their SIM cards to do so within the limited period of the harmonization exercise.
This limited period, provides the last chance for all users of existing SIM Cards to register as all unregistered SIM Cards will be promptly disconnected without further notice at the conclusion of the harmonization exercise.
The Commission is fully aware of the clamour by many interested stakeholders, and stakeholder organizations, for extension of the period for the registration of existing SIM Cards.
The Commission, he said, believes that the six months period provided for the registration exercise, was ample time for all phone users in the country to register their SIM Cards with either their service providers, or the NCC appointed registration consultants.
“It is in deference to the clamour by the stakeholders, that the Commission has provided this opportunity for all those who have not registered on account of logistic challenges, to do so without any further delay while the harmonization is ongoing,” he said.
As said by him within the limited period of the harmonization exercise, service providers would be directed not to disconnect any subscriber on account of the registration until the Commission announces the completion of the process after which those who remain unregistered would be disconnected.
“We commend all subscribers, who, in spite of some challenges along the way, responded positively to this national call to duty, by registering their SIM Cards. We also commend the service providers, and the NCC appointed registration consultants for their commitment towards the success of the SIM registration exercise,” he said.
In a related development, NCC at the weekend, shut the office of an Internet Service Provider (ISP) based in Lagos, Cobranet in defiance of frequency regulations and confiscated equipment.
Muoka further said that NCC sealed the offices of Cobranet, a telecom company based in Lekki, Lagos, for illegally occupying frequencies in some bands mapped out for broadband services in the country, and disrupting the services of other service providers.
The Commission, he pointed out, had in 2009, developed guidelines for the deployment of frequency services on the 5.2 – 5.9GHz bands and in April this year, declared the 5.470 – 5.725 portion of this spectrum as licensed, licensable and not license exempt in Nigeria.
Head, Compliance Monitoring at NCC, Mr. Efosa Idehen & Cobranet officials.
He said that upon this premise, the Commission warned all companies without a license to avoid transmitting signals or using equipment on this frequency band.
However, he said, the Commission after final warning on the issue in June, 2011, discovered that Cobranet, was transmitting signals on the affected frequencies, hence an enforcement action against the company, resulting its being shot down by the Commission, and its equipment disconnected and confiscated all its transmission equipment.
He quoted the head, Compliance Monitoring at NCC, Mr. Efosa Idehen, as saying during the raid that Cobranet would also pay some yet to be determined amount of money to be calculated by the frequency department of the Commission with reference to the space and time the company has illegally occupied the band.
In addition, he said the action of the company is also detrimental to the service quality of other providers as illegal occupations of frequencies degrade the quality of service of the other operators who may be legally operating on such frequencies.
Muoka further said the clampdown on Cobranet is a signal to other operators who may be operating without proper authorization or without recourse to all the rules of the game in the telecommunications industry.
The current leadership at the Commission, he said, is focused on compliance to the rules, hence the need for all operators to adhere to all the rules and conditions in service provisioning for the benefit of the subscribers and the nation.
He said that the frequency spectrum is a finite resource whose use must be in accordance with the set guidelines and conditions.

Remmy Nweke

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