VAS/SNS Licensees Groan over NCC Delayed Allocation of Longcodes

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Nahimah Ajikanle Nurudeen

As the Nigerian telecoms sector struggles to unlock the potentials of Value Added Services, (VAS), about five operators in this segment are currently groaning over delayed allocation of Long numbers to them by the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC).

These affected VAS/SNS providers were licensed over two years ago by the commission to deliver voice services via special numbering codes also konwn as longcodes.

The Nigerian government, along with other African countries, has been lauded for its ICT liberilisation policy and for creating a competitive environment for the players in the telecommunications sector.

However, industry analysts have observed that in spite of the high growth of mobile subscribers, the specific market of mobile VAS services, is not still well structured for a sustainable development of this segment, as it is still running under a ‘tolerance regime’

Stakeholders also posited that despite the increasing number of licenced VAS/Shortcodes providers, this market has been on the decline.

These according to them, is because the Premium SMS Shortcodes business which is mainly dedicated for the commercialisation of mobile Content, is completely under control of MNOs, who impose their technical and commercial terms to licenced VAS/ SMS Shortcode Providers especially, the unfair revenue share for the service provision.

However, there is an increasing demand for Longcodes services from various kinds of businesses especially in the domain of the cloud unified communication, multichannel call centre among others.

It is however, disheartening to note that five companies have been licensed to deliver services in via Special Numbering codes  in the past two years, none has been allocated a range of VAS long numbers except the first licensee who is operating the 0700 & 0800 ranges since 2005 under a monopoly situation.

According to available information on NCC website, the licensees are Alpha Technologies Ltd, Lagos, Callme Nigeria Limited, Abuja,  GTS-Infotel Nigeria Limited, Lagos, Cedarview Communications Limited, Lagos, Trium Networks Limited, Lagos and Interra Networks Limited, Abuja.

Though, Alpha Technologies Ltd which got it license over 12 years ago is the only firm currently offering VAS longcodes services using the 0700 and 0800 codes while the latest five licensees are unable to operate for over two years now with their licenses as result of delay by NCC in releasing the access code for them. This situation they lamented has been negatively impacting their business growth.

These operators are bewildered as to what to do with their Licenses in addition to the loss of investors confidence already being experienced.

In addition, these unnecessary delays further create the fear of a deliberate creation of a monopoly without giving any room for competitiveness and creativity in the VAS segment of telecoms sector.

When contacted, the Managing Director, GTS-Infotel, Pierre-François appealed to the telecom sector regulator to urgently address the situation.

He said, “We urge the NCC, as one of the acclaimed best regulatory bodies in Africa and beyond to do something urgent to these concerns. We believe that, Nigeria as the center of Excellence of ICT in Africa, should through its Telecommunication Regulatory body show direction to other African countries with respect to the development of a sustainable mobile VAS market, which is a growing sector of the digital economy.”

 

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