More than 30 million telecommunications subscribers in Nigeria have activated the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) code on their lines, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed. The DND code, which is 2442, allows subscribers to stop all unwanted messages, which usually come from Value Added Services (VAS) providers in the industry.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who released the latest data for the DND activations, said more subscribers are taking advantage of the code, which empowers them to be able to protect themselves from the menace of unsolicited text messages. Danbatta noted that when the Commission introduced the 2442 DND code in 2015, less than 500,000 people activated the code, but now over 30 million subscribers are using the power given to them by the regulator.
In 2018 when the number of DND activations was just over 11 million, the VAS operators had cried out over the impact it was having on their business. According to the operators, the blocking of unwanted messages by the subscribers was creating a lull in the market and forcing many of the operators out of business. But NCC insisted that policy was not to kill the VAS business but to protect the telecom consumers who had been at the receiving end of unsolicited messages emanating from the VAS providers.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ forum organised by the NCC recently, the VAS operators had complained that the market had been comatose since the full implementation of DND began in 2018. According to the VAS providers, the market, in terms of operations and business transactions was worth N300 billion in 2017 has now shrunk to N79 billion.
“In the last one year, we have been on zero income because subscribers have blocked our messages through DND. Many of our members have shut down,” said the President of Wireless Service Providers Association of Nigeria (WASPAN) the umbrella body of the VAS providers, Mr. Chijioke Ezeh. The WASPAN President said regulatory action such as banning of marketing of VAS services, which was effected two years ago also contributed to the woes of the operators.
However, responding to the operators’ complaints, NCC’s Director of Technical Standards, Mr. Bako Wakil, said the intention of the regulator was not to kill businesses but to sanitise it and ensure consumer satisfaction. “It is our desire to see the market grow but the greed and unethical practices of some of your members forced the regulatory actions. There were many cases of forceful subscriptions and subscribers losing millions of naira as they were being charged for services they did not subscribe for. We have had to appear before the National Assembly over the issue,” the Director said.