Nigeria’s NCC Steps Into content provides dispute with mobile companies over access and revenue shares

Telecoms

Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Telecommunications Commission (NCC) Engineer Ernest Ndukwe has said that the commission was determined to resolve the lingering differences between service providers and GSM operators in the country's telecom industry.

He said this in Abuja at the Public Inquiry organised by the NCC on the proposed guidelines on the Common and Premium short code operation in Nigeria.

President of the Wireless Application Service Providers Association of Nigeria (WASPAN) Goke Akingboro said network operators were fond of denying content providers who constitute membership of WASPAN, access to their network.

He said in other climates, value added service which include common and short premium codes was a multi-billion dollar business but that current practice of network operators leave much to be desired.

Adegbe Ogbe, another content provider said that network operators were skewing revenue sharing formula (75%/25% ratio) against the service providers. He also complained of delay in payments of entitlement by the network providers.

The NCC boss said: "We will look into the revenue sharing formula because we at NCC are given to encouraging small firms to grow so as to provide the needed competition. We will also look into delays in payment by the network operators." He said the event was meant to look into the proposed guidelines on Common and Premium Short Code Operation in Nigeria.

Short codes are special telephone numbers shorter than the full telephone numbers that can be used to address SMS and MMS messages from mobile phones or fixed lines. They are widely used for value added services such as television voting, ordering ring tones, charity donations among others.

"The guidelines are proposed to provide a framework for operation of common short codes, licensing of content aggregators and protection against misuse, that meet international standards", Ndukwe said.

Included in the proposed guidelines are the provisions that text messages sent by consumers must be saved by the network providers for a minimum of six months for security and regulatory reasons, not to be used to pass obscene messages while the service providers are to ensure the numbers are used solely for the purpose for which they are meant.

Network operators present at the inquiry maintained that sharing formulas between them and service provider is a business decision which should not be the concern of the NCC. They also complained of the six months minimum period the messages sent should be saved to be too long.