Thursday, July 1, 2010

Akunyili orders a stop to sales of unregistered SIM cards

Minister of Information and Communications, Dora Akunyili have directed the Nigerian telecom Operators to comply with the Federal Government’s policy on SIM card registration by stopping sales of unregistered new SIM cards.

Akunyili gave the directive recently in Abuja during an interactive session with stakeholders in the telecommunications sector held in her office.

She said Federal Government demands and expects full compliance, adding that there would be no going back on SIM card registration.

The Minister said that the Federal Government was not oblivious of some challenges such as equipment compatibility and interoperability, promised to look into those issues in good time.

The present administration was displeased with the poor quality of services rendered by telecoms operators, she stated.

Akunyili regretted that drop calls have remained a problem despite constant appeals for improvement, while adding that poor voice signal quality and reception are becoming peculiar to Nigeria.

“This, in turn wastes money and time as well as create image problem for the country. This is because Nigerians are seen as having a culture of shouting on phone instead of talking,” she said.

Other areas of concern identified by the Minister include high tariffs, number portability, which gives the Consumer the freedom of choice to move from one network to another without having to lose his/her number and the issue of Lottery.

She therefore ordered the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to submit to her office within two weeks a comprehensive plan of action on how to improve the quality of service.

According to the Minister, Telecom companies have now refined their business focus from core telecom service provision to de facto lottery vendors, while they have employed all manners of tricks to lure unsuspecting subscribers into parting with their hard earned money with the promise of huge rewards.

She appealed that the operators should stop all lottery activities that did not follow due process and approved by Nigeria Lottery Regulatory Commission, and warned them to stop invading subscribers’ privacy through unsolicited text messages.

Concering towers and masts, the Minister enjoined operators to abide by the regulations guiding their location and erection by not infringing upon the rights of other corporate and individual citizens.

Stressing the imperative of consumer education on telecom products, services and packages, the Minister also mandated the NCC to demand that operators submit education manuals to it for vetting on service bouquets before they are introduced into the market.

Akunyili promised that the present administration would put measures in place to ensure maximum synergy is derived from the convergence of telecom and broadcast technologies.
The interactive session was witnessed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry M.S. Bashar, Directors, top government officials, some Chief Executive Officers and Representatives of Telecom Operators in Nigeria.