Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Report
(Quarter 4 - 2020)
THE INDUSTRY WORKING GROUP (IWG) ON MULTIPLE TAXATIONS/REGULATIONS
The IWG on Multiple Taxation/Regulation meets every quarter of the year. However, due to limitations posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the IWG was only able to meet once in 2020 but was able to resolve accumulated issues of multiple taxation/regulation.
The inclusion of Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA) as a member of the IWG is one of the key successes recorded by the meeting. The Commission received several correspondences from LASIRMA in 2020 bothering on the integrity of mast and tower, collapsed masts and the need to monitor the installation and maintenance of Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) sites in Lagos State. Stakeholder’s engagement is one of the Commission’s strategic pillars for continued success and it informed the decision to invite the management of LASIMRA to the IWG meeting to discuss its concerns and areas of possible collaboration.
The meeting noted that it is disheartening that nearly three decades after the deregulation of the telecommunication sector in Nigeria, the problem of multiple taxation and regulation still persist. The meeting therefore requested the Commission to intensify its collaborative efforts with state governments to address the issues giving the benefits of telecommunications as a catalyst for economic development and growth.
INTER-MINISTERIAL REVIEW MEETING ON TELECOMMUNICATION INFRASTRUCTURE LOCALIZATION IN NIGERIA
The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Telecommunication Infrastructure and Localization in Nigeria was set up in 2014 with membership drawn from Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, Federal Ministry of Environment, National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and the Nigerian Communications Commission. The Inter-ministerial Committee is authorised to consider a setback of 7.5m where the 10m minimum setback of telecommunications masts and towers from a demised property stipulated in the National Environmental Standards for Telecommunications and Broadcast facilities Regulations 2011 issued by NESREA is not feasible.
At its meeting of 16th March 2020, the Committee received and reviewed forty (40) applications for waiver to build BTS sites that did not meet the 10 meters regulatory requirement but meets the concessional 7.5m setback requirement. Following the conduct of the requisite site inspection and comprehensive review of the relevant documents and site drawings, the Committee in November, 2020 granted approval for the construction of 31 BTS sites that met the conditions for the construction and installation of BTS sites in Nigeria.
REVISED SUBMISSION BY AIRTEL FROM TECHNICAL AUDIT ON THE ALLEGED OVER-BILLING OF SMS
The Commission received Nine (9) consumer complaints on issues relating to over-billing of SMS services on Airtel network. Six (6) cases of over-billing were established after investigation, Airtel was directed to refund and compensate the Six (6) Subscribers in accordance with the provisions of the Commission’s Consumer Code of Practice Regulations and Quality of Service Regulations.
A comprehensive technical audit of Airtel Network to ascertain the magnitude of SMS overbilling violations was undertaken. Based on the findings of the technical audit, Airtel Networks Limited was directed to refund a total sum of Ninety Five Million, One Hundred and Twenty Two Thousand, Three Hundred and Forty Eight Naira (N95,122,348.00) and compensate 3,654,149 Subscribers that were wrongfully overbilled for concatenated SMS during the period of 16th January - 2nd June, 2020.
SALE OF FRAUDULENTLY REGISTERED SIM CARD
The Commission carried out series of enforcement actions against the open sale of fraudulently registered SIMs in Kano, Gombe, Borno and Sokoto States respectively. A large number of fraudulently registered SIMs and SIM registration equipment were confiscated, the suspects arrested and handed over to the NSCDC for prosecution.
In Borno State, twenty-two (22) persons were arrested for possession and sale of fraudulently registered SIM cards. Three thousand (3000) SIM Cards were seized, out of which one hundred and five (105) were found to be fraudulently registered.
The Commission observed a high prevalence of fraudulently registered SIMs in Sokoto State which was attributed to the failure of service providers to put effective control systems in place. Twenty persons (20) were arrested in Sokoto North and Sokoto South Local Government Areas. A large number of SIMs of the various mobile networks were confiscated and 5 registration machines and a Computer Laptop were also confiscated.
ENFORCEMENT ON 5.4 GHZ FREQUENCY IN NNEWI AND ONITSHA, ANAMBRA STATE
The persistent and widespread use of GSM signal boosters across the country has been a source of concern to the Commission as they interfere with mobile network signals and cause service degradation. Following the Commission’s intervention, the Market Leaders in Nnewi and Onitsha have agreed to remove all boosters in their respective markets whilst mobile network operators have committed to expedite necessary network enhancement efforts to improve network quality within the markets. It is expected that network expansion will be concluded within first quarter of 2021.
Q4 2019 SIM REPLACEMENT AUDIT
All the four (4) Mobile Network Operators, MTN, Airtel, Globacom and 9Mobile (EMTS) were found to be in absolute breach of the SIM Replacement Guidelines at the last SIM Replacement Audit Exercise conducted by the Commission. A Notice of Sanction was consequently issued to the respective MNOs to show cause why appropriate sanctions should not be imposed for the violation.
The four (4) MNOs were sanctioned for the violation of SIM Replacement Guidelines as follows:
- Airtel - N3,250,000.00 (in respect of 13 infractions),
- EMTS - Issued strong warning due to the number of infractions
- Globacom - N39,250,000.00 (in respect of 37 infractions)
- MTN - N36,000,000.00 (in respect of the 24 infractions)
DIRECTION ON FORCEFUL/AUTOMATIC RENEWAL OF DATA SUBSCRIPTION AND ACTIVATION/SUBSCRIPTION TO DATA AND VALUE-ADDED SERVICES
EMTS has settled the sanction imposed on it for breach of the Direction on forceful subscription.
SUSPENSION OF REGULATORY SERVICE TO GLOBACOM LTD OWING TO VARIOUS REGULATORY OBLIGATIONS
The Commission’s investigations revealed that Globacom Ltd had accumulated a large debt relating to outstanding regulatory charges, fines and renewal fees for its expired UASL license. Hence a direction and subsequently enforcement notice were issued to Globacom Ltd to make all outstanding payments and submit its audited accounts for 2018 and 2019 in accordance with the provisions of Annual Operating Levy Regulation 2014.
Following Globacom Ltd breach of the above, the Commission suspended Regulatory Services to Globacom Ltd for a period of sixty (60) days in the first instance. This is due to non-compliance with regulation and default in the payment of outstanding regulatory fees. The suspension took effect from 17th December, 2020 and will remain in force until 16th February, 2021 in the first instance.
CONTRAVENTION OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE ANNUAL OPERATING LEVY REGULATIONS, 2014
Pre-enforcement notices were sent to Thirty Five (35) Licensees that were not up to date in paying their Annual Operating Levy (AOL) and submission of their annual audited accounts. Some of the Licensees responded to the notice while enforcement actions were taken on Twenty One (21) Licensees; Nineteen (19) in Lagos and Two (2) in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.
Exchange Telecoms made full payment of its outstanding Annual Operation Levy (AOL) in the sum of One Hundred and One Million, Three Hundred and Twenty Seven Thousand, Eight Hundred Naira (N101,327,800.00) only, ICSL made a part payment of Twenty Million Naira (N20,00,000.00) while many made commitments to settle their outstanding AOL.
COMPLIANCE WITH LICENSE RENEWAL – MOBILE LOTTERY NIGERIA LIMITED
Mobile Lottery Nigeria Limited, a VAS licensee was fined the sum of Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) for effecting a change in its company’s shareholding structure without obtaining the Commission’s approval in accordance with the provisions of Condition 13 of its license and Regulation 28 of the Competition Practices Regulation, 2017.