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The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communica­tions Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has said that commercial banks in the country owe Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) over N17 billion following the regulator’s suspension of its determination on Unstructured Supplemen­tary Service Data (USSD) pric­ing last year.

The NCC, in furtherance of its mandate to protect the interests of consumers and support a robust telecom­munications sector, recently announced that it had revised the determination on the USSD.

Danbatta revealed this on Thursday during ATCON’s virtual forum on ‘Meeting the Interests of Government, Consumers and Telecoms Companies in the Era of COVID-19 and Post COVID-19 Pandemic for Digital Econom­ic Development’.

He noted that the Minister of Communications and Dig­ital Economy, Dr. Ali Isa Ibra­him Pantami, had already been briefed on the develop­ment with a view to ensuring a quick settlement of the debt.

Explaining the commis­sion’s efforts at resolving con­sumer-related issues, he noted that when the commission introduced the Do-Not-Dis­turb (DND) code in 2015, less than 500,000 people activated the code, but there are now 22,722,366 lines on the DND.

Danbatta further stated that 98% of the total ser­vice-related complaints received from telecoms con­sumers within a 15-month period, spanning January 2019 to April 2020, have been successfully resolved by the commission.

On quality of service, Dan­batta said “the commission has monthly engagements with operators as well as quarterly industry working group on quality of service and short codes, and is cur­rently monitoring 2G Key Performance Indicators, while the KPIs for 4G are be­ing prepared.”

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It would be recalled that NCC, in a statement recently, observed that the amendment to its USSD determination was necessitated by a pro­tracted dispute between mo­bile network operators and financial institutions on the applicable charges for USSD services and the method of billing.

The commission recognis­es that its policies are not stat­ic and may be modified from time to time as circumstances demand.

According to Danbatta, in the interest of the consumers and other stakeholders, the commission revised the deter­mination previously issued by removing the price floor and the Cap to allow mobile network operators and the banks to negotiate rates that will be mutually beneficial to all parties concerned.

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