Telecommunications regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has licensed additional 35 companies to provide value added services (VAS) in the sector, New Telegraph has learnt. This came amidst mounting subscribers’ complaints over VAS services, which are rendered mostly as unsolicited messages to mobile users.
VAS market in Nigeria is currently valued at $200 million and has been projected to hit $500 million in the next few years as the regulator moves to introduce another set of players known as VAS aggregators into the segment. The new licensees brought the number of companies providing content service using short code to 307.
According NCC’s database, the new VAS providers licensed between January and June this year include: Fun Mobile Limited; Upfront & Personal Global Management and Vastech Options and Solutions Limited. Others Kemajibs Nig Ltd; Digimonetize Limited; Converge Infotech Solutions Limited; Measurable Accurate Digital Solutions Ltd; M-SAT Nigeria Limited and Ignite Innovative Solution Limited.
Also included are Digital Mobile Limited; T3Mobile Synergy Services Limited; Digiline Solution Limited; Insearch Decisions & Strategies Limited; Jlynks Technologies Limited; Tavishil Digital Solutions Limited; Gbam International Investments Limited; JMD Digital Nigeria Limited; Information Secure Limited; Kadick Intergrated Limited; Growthngine Nigeria Limited and Simplyvas Nigeria Limited.
The list also include Moredew Limited; Digital Virgo Nigeria Limited; Daleth -Mem Synergia Limited; Centurian Global Network Ltd; Ebonylife Limited; The Walt Disney Company Nigeria Limited and Castek Cloud LTD.
Also on the list are Bymore Integrated Concepts Limited; Nellobyte Systems Limited; Alexander Aldrich Ltd; 3Rie Media Digital Marketing Company Ltd; How Media & Entertainment Limited; Startimes STB Project Nig Ltd; Theosdedit Limited; Sonite Communications Limited; and integrated Telematics Solutions Limited.
VAS providers offer services in partnership with telcos to send their clients’ contents in form of Short Messaging System (SMS) to telecom consumers. However, huge complaints by subscribers over prevalence of such messages had prompted the regulator to introduce Do-Not-Disturb (DND), which allows them to opt out of the services. As at the end of June, 11 million subscribers are said to have activated the 2442 DND code. While the code provides telecoms subscribers with the options of opting out of unwanted services, it also allows them to opt in for services that are of interest and benefits to them, as well as opting out of VAS completely.
However, from the latest statistics by the regulator, about 99 per cent of the 11 million subscribers that had activated the code opted out of VAS completely. A review of subscribers’ complaint report for the first quarter recently released by the regulator showed VAS issue as one of the top complaints by the consumers.
To address the complaint, however, the Commission said it had introduced new measures aside the DND code. According to the Deputy Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau at NCC, Mr Ismail Adedigba, the regulator has issued a directive compelling the VAS providers to stop automatic renewal and forceful subscription. He added that the service providers have also been mandated to implement a two-step authorisation of opt-in process for VAS subscription.
NCC said it is also concerned that positive values of VAS are being eroded by the menace of unsolicited messages.
However, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, said the regulator would strike a balance through a regulatory framework.
Danbatta said VAS enable, in a very special way, social media and e-commerce activities that might be useful to the consumer while offering a veritable tool for entrepreneurs and businesses in this modern and mobile age of the Internet of Things (IoTs).
“Whereas VAS could be very useful and provide services that may interest consumers and assist online and offline entrepreneurs to reach customers, particularly on the mobile markets, both to advertise and to sell their products and services, on the other hand, it could become a challenge, flooding the networks and thus consumers with all kinds of product offering that most consumers may not be interested in,” he said.
He said the Commission, based on that realisation, was working assiduously to strike a balance between enabling the opportunities that the VAS providers offer to some consumers and mitigating the challenges or inconvenience they could constitute to others.” He added that it was for that purpose the regulator is ensuring that while the service providers are being licensed and are allowed to operate and provide value added services to consumers, consumers are also empowered through the DND facility to choose whether to allow or block access to these services on a full or partial basis.