Zambia: Regulator ZICTA warns mobile phone providers on SMS promotions

Telecoms

Zambian regulator ZICTA has directed the three mobile service companies to limit to one promotional short massaging system (sms) per day to be sent to their respective customers. This follows numerous complaints from mobile phone subscribers regarding transmission of unsolicited text messages on various promotions being offered by the three mobile service providers.

In a statement,  ZICTA Public Relations Manager Ngabo Nankonde said Airtel, MTN and Zamtel should adhere to the directive without fail. "Following due process, the Authority has directed the service providers to adhere to the following when transmitting unsolicited text (SMS) messages; "With immediate effect to ensure that no promotional SMS messages(s) are transmitted between 20:00 hours and 07:00 hours. Only one promotional message of the same nature shall be transmitted in a week. Providers shall only transmit one SMS in a day," she said.

The complaints allege that the same text messages are sometimes transmitted repetitively and within a short period of time. Messages were transmitted at awkward hours including late at night. Nankonde said ZICTA was aware that mere transmission of messages by Mobile Service Providers does not constitute an offence as stipulated under Electronic the Communications and Transactions Act.

"However, the Authority is cognisant of the fact that all Service Providers have an obligation, in respect of their specific services, to deal reasonably with consumers as stipulated at Section 67(1)(b) of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Act number 15 of 2009.

"The Authority has also directed that with effect from 1st September 2011 providers allow consumers the option to unsubscribe to any promotion that may be on offer," she said. Nankonde said the information about the option would accompany every SMS transmitted. The directive was not applicable to consumers who had contracts with third party institutions like financial institutions.

"The Authority would like to assure consumers that under the current legal frame, the regulatory mandate of the institution has been enhanced and all measures to protect the interests of consumers will be implemented as required.