The 83rd edition of the Telecom Consumers Parliament (TCP), which was held on Thursday, brought together Telecom consumers, to enlighten them about Value Added Services (VAS) and also profer solutions to common, current and emerging issues and challenges in the communication industry as well as the widal information and communication technology sector, which sits on the bedrock of the telecoms industry.
The event which took place at the Digital Bridge Institute guest house, Cappa, Oshodi, Lagos, had in attendance members of the league of hope group, Consumer Protection Council (CPC), MTN, 9Mobile, Glo, Airtel, Smile, Leadership watch, CBHR, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), WASPAN, Deputy Director NCC, Alh. Ismail Adedigba, Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau NCC, Mrs Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, Ntel, Executive Commissioner for Stakeholders Management, Mr Sunday Dare, Executive Vice Chairman/ CEO NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, Mr Ayoola Oke, NUT, Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), amongst others.
The director, Consumer Affairs Bureau NCC, Mrs Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, said it is not the network providers that provide Value Added Services but some other persons, who make use of the network platform to dish out information.
VAS is an industry term for all services beyond voice transmission and they come with huge current and potential benefits for their consumers.
A recent publication revealed that the Nigerian Telecom VAS market was valued at 200 million dollars in 2016, with a projection that it will be worth over 500 million dollars over the next five years.
Mr Ayoola Oke, who spoke about these services and their benefits said it is an ongoing discussion which rose from consumers complaint about their privacy being intruded into. This led to the introduction of Do Not Disturb (DND) by NCC, using the short code 2442 to enable consumers decide what services they want and set a general framework for there to be fairness in the provision of VAS.
In his words, “within the framework of any commercial Enterprise, there are certain incidental and tangential opportunities. We have consumer behavior Value Added Services, there are network Value Added Services, then we have Enterprise Value Added Services.
“On whose behalf are they carrying out the services? And this is the important point to know, they are carrying out the services on your behalf, because you as a Consumer, you have a business, you may want to popularize your business, you can engage a Value Added Service provider to help you advertise your business to other consumers.”
He went on to say that education is the biggest source of information in the world today, as there are many Value Added Services sending employment opportunities to people. “It is also an opportunity to enhance business opportunities as there are two sides to it, the front end which is the access to the Services that are being provided and the back end, which are the opportunities for every consumer.”
Oke went on to say that “you can manage your business right from your phone and a consumer who uses this platform to enhance himself is called a prosumer.” He advised consumers to block out only those services not considered useful to them and leave out the others.
The parliament agreed that WASPAN and service providers will intensify their effort in educating the consumers on VAS. MTN is to investigate the second charge of MTN backup Services. Service providers are to adhere to the directive on DND so that consumers who opt out of the service will not receive messages after that and they are not charged.
Meanwhile, service providers were advised to ensure a second legal confirmation before a subscriber is opted in to the VAS as some consumers could press in error.