NCC Harmonises Guidelines for Telecom Sector

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Eugene Juwah

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THE Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has commenced the process of harmonising new regulatory guidelines for the telecommunications industry to ensure a robust and efficient regulatory framework in Nigeria. Eugene Juwah, executive vice chairman of the commission, at a stakeholders meeting to finalise the process in Abuja, explained that the exercise was part of the commission’s rule-making process aimed at ensuring wide consultation in the development of regulatory instruments by the commission in accordance with the Nigerian Communications Act.

The new guideline will become an invaluable asset in ensuring that the opinions and inputs of stakeholders are considered in developing a sound regulatory framework for the Nigerian telecommunications industry. The draft enforcement regulations which formed the second segment of the public enquiry was an amendment of the previous regulations issued to the industry in 2005. The regulation was amended to reflect best practices in the industry.

The regulation when finalised will provide a more robust framework for efficient processes for carrying out enforcement in the industry. According to the commission, the regulations and guidelines will complement the Act and respective licenses by the commission in addition to providing guiding standards and principles for enforcement processes and SIM replacements in the industry. “This effort by the commission will further ensure that the industry adopts international best practices while taking into consideration our peculiar operating environment,” Juwah said.

Under the amended Enforcement Processes Regulations, the new draft enforcement is of the regulations issued in 2005. It provides a more robust framework for effective and efficient processes for carrying out enforcement in the industry and regulations under this process were amended to align with practice and trends in the industry.

Justifying the increase of most fines in the old draft, the NCC explained that previous fines failed to serve the purpose of deterring repeated contraventions. It added that principle of fairness and transparency were taken into consideration in the amendments, while submissions received from stakeholders were duly considered and incorporated where necessary. For instance, under the new enforcement framework, it is criminal for any operator to provide false subscriber information during registration. Also the condition for releasing seized items or sealed premises would require the licensee to either regularise its operations or comply with the prescribed sanctions.

Also, operators are now allowed to retain Call Data records for a period of 12 months in their data bank. These includes: failure to provide service for a continuous period of 30 days; inability of the licensee to pay any amount due under its license condition; failure to obtain type approval of equipment or facilities; failure to commence full licensed operations and providing misleading information in license application.

They will pay N250,000 for unauthorised SIM replacement; N200,000 for every individual contravention in failure to capture subscriber information; N100,000 for sale of pre-registered SIM card and N5,000,000 for each SIM card order breached or other instruments issued by the Commission where a specific penalty is not specified in the Act.

— Aug 3, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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