The directive from the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on the deactivation of Voice Mail Protocol by service providers, has been described as unnecessary interference.

In a reaction to the directive, the  Association of Licenced Telecommunications of Nigeria (ALTON) said the directive is contrary to to Section 25  subsections 1 & 2 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003.

It also argued that Voice Mail Protocol is not a major “policy issue” within the meaning of S. 23&24 of the NCA which empowers the Minister to formulate “general policy for the communications sector.

“Voice Mail Protocol is a mere operational/consumer protection issue which the Ministry can simply call NCC’s attention to, rather than issuing directives,” it said.

Part of the statement signed by Gbolahan Awonuga -Head, Operations at ALTON reads:

“Our attention has been drawn to yet another directive by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy on Deactivation of Voice Mail Protocol by  Service Providers’ Network.

“In as much that we want to believe that the Minister was misquoted.

“However, our position on Voicemail Directive by the Minister.

“Voicemail (VM) is a value-added service. Only those who opt-in should have it.

“The current practice on some networks is that once you call and the recipient doesn’t pick, you get a voice prompt saying that the subscriber is not available and asking you to record a voice message *after the tone*

“For the avoidance of doubt,  you (as a consumer) are not billed anything, but if you delay, you may be charged for a few seconds, or for the time it takes you to record the message.

“The recipient of the voice mail does not get charged for listening. It is free.

“VM is a value-added service and it should only be provisioned for those who expressly request for it. It may be recalled that  MNOs reintroduced the VM facility to discourage people who “flash” continuously. Flashing wastes network resources and also degrades QoS reporting. This should not, however, justify the practice the way it is being done by some networks.”

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami had yesterday in a statement signed by the Spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman directed the telecom industry regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure that issues regarding automatic voicemails are addressed on all existing phone lines and the subscribers, given the option of accessing the service via an activation code. 

The statement noted that the directive is based on reports at the disposal of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, on “latest trend of financial exploitation by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country, through the automatic activation of the Voicemail Service on their platforms”.


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