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The Nigerian Communications Commission on Thursday said that the positive impact of Value Added Services on consumers outweighed the negative impact.

Efosa Idehen, Director Compliance, Monitoring and enforcement, NCC, made this known during the 1st Annual Nigeria Valued Added Services Stakeholder’s Forum held in Lagos.

He said that the commission deemed it fit to find a balance between enabling the opportunities that the VAS providers offer to consumers, while at the same time mitigating the challenges constituted to other consumers.

Idehen said: “So, while VAS providers are licensed by the commission and allowed to operate and provide services, consumers are also empowered through the Do-Not-Disturb facility to choose whether to allow or block access to VAS services.”

The director said that the VAS service is an important component of the Nigerian telecommunication ecosystem necessary for optimising the benefits of telecom services to consumers.

He said: “VAS service has its advantages, as it encourages innovation, creativity and allows payment of utility bills.

“It increases revenue for the government in taxes which is used in providing amenities for the benefit of consumers.

“It has contributed in promoting financial inclusion policy of the government and facilitated the creation of wealth for many Nigerians.

“The VAS services also reduce incidence of bank fraud, since most consumers get bank alerts.”

Idehen, however, said that the negative impact exposes consumers to receiving unsolicited messages, fraudulent deductions of consumers credit for VAS services not subscribed for, among others.

He said: “Most subscribers are forced to ask the question: Are the telcos and their third parties adding ‘value’ or ‘pain’ services?

“Some major consumers’ concerns in respect to VAS services include spam messages, fraudulent bank alerts, forceful subscriptions, among others.”

The director also said that the commission was planning to stop auto-renewal, which was illegal and seen as a form of forceful subscription.

Idehen said that consumers should be given the choice to choose whether they want to renew their subscription or not.

He said that the commission was also planning to take action against VAS providers who force auto-renewal on consumers.

Also speaking, Engr. Maska Ubale, Executive Commissioner Technical Services, NCC, said that the VAS forum was one of the laudable initiatives embarked on by the commission to develop effective collaboration with relevant stakeholders for sustainable ICT development.

Ubale, who was represented by Bako Wakil, Head, Technical Standards and Network Integrity Department, NCC, said that as the ICT ecosystem was transforming daily, VAS content developers would have to collaborate with other stakeholders in the telecom Industry.

He said: “This collaboration will be needed to drive the proliferation of applications that will meet the needs of consumers.

“This forum is intended to create more awareness, guide participants in understanding the social and economic importance of collaboration in the telecom world where content is king.”

Ubale also said that VAS licensees recorded by the commission in the last few years was an indication of the growing interest in the VAS segment of the telecom industry.

He noted that the commission had also allocated short codes to about 233 VAS licensees for the provision of different services, which has enhanced service delivery in country’s telecom industry.

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