Telecoms operators yesterday said the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) indicted itself over the huge number of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards it adjudged invalid, almost 10 years after the exercise started across the country.
Acting under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), the carriers wondered why it took the regulator so long to raise the issue.
Its Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo, said the NCC came out with SIM card registration rules which the carriers adhered to during the exercise, adding that huge cash was also sunk on the project.
Adebayo who spoke at Vanguard e-Economy Forum on Telecoms at the Civic Centre, Lagos, said the NCC would still need to do more explanations because “operators duly followed the procedures, standards and protocols handed to operators at the commencement of the exercise some eight years back.”
The theme of the forum was Unlocking the Revenue and Growth Opportunities in the Telecoms Sector in a Changing Business Model and Digital Technology Environment.
The regulator however said it was not true that 95.7million subscriber data was ‘invalid’ but was undergoing scrubbing, stressing that the issue needed further clarification for the benefit of subscribers and other critical stakeholders who rely on subscriber registration data.
“The Commission wishes to clarify that the process of scrubbing registration data submitted by operators is an ongoing one and that so far, over 60million records have been “scrubbed” successfully. “Scrubbing” in telecoms parlance refers to the screening process of verifying biometric and personal information submitted by all operators in respect of each of their subscribers.
“Although the figures quoted in the news reports were disclosed at a sensitisation workshop to illustrate the quality of initial data submissions, subsequent process enhancements by the NCC and operators have led to better quality submissions. The process is ongoing, and is constantly being reviewed for higher efficiency. NCC disclosed the outcome of its initial scrubbing exercise at the sensitisation workshop in order to underscore the need for subscriber registration agents and operators to ensure strict adherence to the Subscriber Registration Regulations of 2011 as well as the technical specifications for subscriber registration.
“NCC however wishes to use this opportunity to encourage all subscribers to ensure that their details are properly captured in order to avoid unnecessary complications which may affect their banking, educational, health, travel and other pursuits which rely on proof of personal identity,” the regulator said in a statement.
The Commission also urged operators to restructure their business model, so as to boost their revenue as stiff competition from Over The Top (OTT).
The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta gave the advice in his keynote address at the forum.
Represented by the Head, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Bako Wakil, Danbatta said presently, there were dynamics in the industry in terms of infrastructure investment and industry growth.
“It is necessary for industry players such as telcos, vendors and Value Added Service (VAS) licensees to consider taking steps to change their business models in line with current and forecasted industry trends as may be required,”