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NCC blocks 10.7 million telephone lines

By on August 20, 2015

The Nigerian Communications Commission has blocked 10.7 million mobile telephone lines in the last one week (since August 11) for improper registration.

It said on Tuesday that at the completion of a “strict monitoring of mobile operators in the country,” it was likely to block 28.61 million more lines found to be defective, which would bring the total number of deactivated lines to 38.78 million.

The ongoing deactivation of preregistered Subscribers Identification Modules cards on the network of mobile operators in the country led to the blockage of the telephone lines.

Speaking in Lagos, the NCC said the lines were barred due to improper registration details including poor fingerprints; lack of facial information and other biometric challenges.

The Head of SIM Registration Project, NCC, Mr. Bashiru Idris, said the operators and their agents were expected to ensure proper biometric capturing of subscribers including the fingerprints and facial outlook, “but they failed to do so in most cases.”

According to the commission’s Head of Compliance and Monitoring Unit, Efosa Idehen, the regulator has since the expiration of the ultimatum given to operators (August 11), been visiting the operators to ensure compliance.

He said that in September 2014, the NCC discovered that from the SIM data the operators sent to the commission for hamonisation, some were defective and had to be returned to the operators for proper and complete checks.

Idehen said, “18.6 million SIM data were sent back to MTN Nigeria; 10.46 million to Etisalat; 7.49 million to Airtel; and 2.23 million to Globacom.

“The huge figures are a sign that the operators are partially committed to the exercise; more so, the NCC monitoring exercise proved us right.”

He said out of the about 18.6 million SIM registration data found to be defective on MTN network, only about 1.6 million had been barred.

“What MTN actually did was to put the affected subscribers on ‘Receive calls only’, which means the subscribers cannot put a call through to another network. With this, there was no compliance from MTN,” Idehen said.

He also said, “During our visit to Airtel, the telecommunications service had fully barred 2.3 million lines from their networks. These are SIM data found to be incomplete. At Globacom, 3.5 million lines have been barred also from their network.

“Globacom gave assurance of 24 hours to deactivate other lines found to be defective on their networks.

“Etisalat has barred 3.3 million lines and promised that within 24 hours, others found to be challenging will be removed totally from the networks.”

Idehen said the directive given to the operators was to block any line found to have incomplete registration, while they (operators) could later urge the affected subscribers to come and complete their registration.

He, therefore, said that to check any excesses henceforth, “operators will be required to send correct data for hamonisation to the regulator.”

He said the NCC would sanction any operator going contrary to the stipulation of the SIM Card Registration Code, sections 19 to 21, with an errant operator paying N200,000 for each flaw.