Five telecommunications companies have been sanctioned by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for illegally using the 5.4GHz to provide services. The five companies, which include Priority Communications, Entouche Networks, Futurecom, KKON Technologies & Spar, are to pay N5 million each for the contravention.
Spectrums are government resources managed and licensed to operators for services delivery by NCC. However, some companies and government agencies are said to be using the resources without acquiring the license for it.
NCC, in its latest enforcement report, disclosed that the five companies were earlier charged to court after they were caught using the spectrum illegally, but they pleaded for leniency and requested for settlement out of Court.
“Following their plea, administrative fines of N5,000,000.00 (five million naira) only was respectively imposed on the companies,” the Commission stated in the report. The telecoms regulator noted that while some of the companies have effected full payment of the fine, some have proposed to pay on an instalment basis.
NCC had, last year, threatened to impose sanctions, including imprisonment, fines and confiscation of equipment being used by some companies and agencies of government to illegally occupy 5.4GHz frequency band. The Commission, in a published warning to the illegal users, had noted that the 5.4GHz band spanning 5.430-5.725GHz frequency range has been licensed in Nigeria. It stressed that transmission of signals or use of equipment in any form on the band without a frequency license obtained from NCC is illegal.
“Companies, government agencies, telecommunications service providers, private companies or any person(s) using this band… should note that it is a criminal offence pursuant to section 122 NCA, 2003 to operate in any frequency not duly assigned by the Commission.
“The consequences of such an act may lead to imprisonment, sanction and confiscation of equipment used in operating the illegal services,” NCC stated.
In the latest enforcement report, the Commission noted that as a sequel to “a nationwide monitoring exercise conducted by Spectrum Administration Department in respect of the 5.4GHz frequency band and the subsequent pre-enforcement publication in the national dailies in 2019, Management approval was granted to commence a nationwide enforcement exercise against the illegal and unauthorized users of the 5.4GHz frequency band.
“In this regard, the Commission conducted enforcement exercise in Cross Rivers, Akwa- Ibom, Otukpa (Benue), Warri (Delta), Benin (Edo), Enugu (Enugu) and Owerri (Imo) respectively. Several arrests were made in Warri, Uyo, Calabar, and Owerri as well as items confiscated and the cases were filed at the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) for investigation and possible prosecution,” it said. Meanwhile, the Commission said it received a security report from the NSCDC, Jigawa State Command, in respect of the prevalence and sale of fully activated SIM Cards in some major markets across the State. According to the report, the NSCDC had identified fourteen (14) markets where pre-registered SIM Cards are sold in various places across Jigawa State.
“The EVC approved two (2) teams to carry out enforcement in some select markets from the 14 identified markets. The selected markets are located in Gumel and Hadejia Emirate Councils. Fifteen suspects were arrested and handed over to the NSCDC for further investigation and possible prosecution,” the Commission reported.
Meanwhile, the Commission said it has commenced monitoring of the telcos’ networks to ascertain their compliance with the directive on the 2442 shortcode, which allows subscribers to stop unwanted messages.
The telecoms regulator said its Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Department (CMED) devised a strategy to monitor and ensure compliance with the directive through a quarterly review of the performance of Mobile Network Operators’ (MNOs) DND facilities. “The Audit of DND was held between 4th and 6th March 2020 and all the four (4) MNOs (EMTS, MTN, Airtel, and GLO) were visited,” NCC stated in the report.