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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Deactivation order: ALTON disagrees with Pantami, insists Voicemail is opt-in only - ITREALMS

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has disagreed with the deactivation order on voice mail by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, insisting that Voice mail is opt-in value added service (VAS) only, reports ITREALMS.

ALTON in response to the claimed order for deactivation of Voice Mail Protocol by Service Providers' Network as a ‘policy issue’ maintained that within the Section 23 and 24 of the Nigerian Communications Act, “this is not a major ‘policy issue’ which must align with consultations to be organized by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

“It is a mere operational/consumer protection issue which the Ministry can simply call NCC's attention to,” ALTON insisted amounted to unnecessary interference.

The group which is the umbrella of all licensed mobile network operators, noted that in as much that they want to believe that the Minister was misquoted.

However, ALTON posited that “Voicemail (VM) is a value-added service. Only those who opt-in should have it” stressing that the current practice on some networks is that once subscribers call and the recipient does not pick, “you get a voice prompt saying that the subscriber is not available and asking you to record a voice message *after the tone*”

They further said that for the avoidance of doubt subscribers are not billed anything, but if they delay in either exiting in the event of not wanting the voicemail, “they may be charged for a few seconds, or for the time it takes you to record the message.”

ALTON pointed out that the recipient of the voice mail does not get charged for listening, because “It is free.”

The group explained in a press statement available to 
ITREALMS signed by ALTON chairman, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo and Head of Operations, MR. Gbolahan Awonuga, said that VM is a value added service and should only be provisioned for those who expressly request for it, recalling that MNOs reintroduced the VM facility to discourage people who "flash" continuously.

“Flashing wastes network resources and also degrades QoS reporting. This should not however justify the practise the way it is being done by some networks” they said.

ALTON, however maintained that, VM is not a major "policy issue" within the meaning of S. 23&24 of the NCA which empowers the Minister to formulate "general policy for the communications sector..." after due consultations organised by the NCC, describing it as a mere operational cum consumer protection issue which the Ministry could simply refer to NCC's attention.

“It is a purely consumer related issues that minister refers to as a major policy issue and also amounts to unnecessary interference by the Minister contrary to Section 25 subsections 1 & 2 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003,” ALTON insisted.

Remmy Nweke/DoP

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