The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has reiterated its call on telecom consumers to eschew patronage and usage of counterfeit handsets and other substandard mobile devices in the country.
This was the focus of a one day event, tagged: “Sensitization programme on hazardous effect of non-type approved handsets and impact on quality of service and e-waste”, held at Paiko, Niger State.
Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, while addressing the audience at the event that also featured questions and answers between the consumers and the regulator, said the Commission is worried by the continuous proliferation of substandard mobile phones and devices in the country.
He explained that the sensitization programme was part of the commission’s deliberate move to educate and create awareness on the hazardous health effects and negative economic implications of the patronage of fake handsets and other Information and Communication Technology, ICT, devices in the country.
Danbatta, who was represented by Director, Zonal Operations Department at NCC, Mrs. Amina Shehu, said: “It is a programme designed by the Commission to educate and enlighten the masses on the need to use type-approved handsets and the benefits of using such equipment which includes better quality of service (QoS), network integrity and safety of the end-users.”
He frowned on the proliferation of counterfeit handsets in the country, adding that the menace of counterfeit and substandard handsets had assumed a global dimension which required a lot of education on the part of the consumers and the collaboration with other government agencies to address.
She also enjoined telecoms consumers to check the commission’s official website to find the list of approved phone types from which they could make their choices of handsets to purchase.
“Cases of influx and patronage of counterfeit handsets are more rampant in developing countries, such as Nigerians, where importers bring in substandard phones without recourse to regulatory type-approval process aimed at certifying such devices as fit for the market,” she noted.
According to her, the commission is empowered by the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, section 132 to establish and enforce standards for all telecommunications equipment in operation in Nigeria to ensure they operated seamlessly and safely within the Nigerian telecommunications environment.
As such, all equipment manufacturers, vendors and operators, including customer devices such as mobile phones and wireless adapters, must, therefore, ensure that their equipment conform to the applicable standards as mandated by the commission before bringing them into Nigeria, stressing that NCC is also saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that consumer enjoys his or her stake in the telecommunications industry.
Shehu further added, the Commission, in collaboration with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and other government agencies, recently inaugurated two committees to design modalities towards curbing the proliferation of substandard handsets in the country.
She also said that, the Commission has developed regulations on electronic waste (e-waste), as another regulatory instrument, which among others, aim at providing regulatory framework for the management and control of e-waste in the telecommunications industry, all in line with Section 132 of the NCA, 2003.
Speaking on behalf of telecoms consumers and participants at the event, the Hakimi of Paiko, Alhaji Mansur Baba Mustapha, commended the commission for bringing such programme to the Paiko community.
He, however, complained of poor network services and unsolicited text messages they receive from telecom operators with the Commission providing necessary responses, especially on the need to activate the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 Short Code to stop unsolicited text messages.