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Is the NCC creating a VAS monopoly?

Is the NCC creating a VAS monopoly?

Delays in the release of new long codes for providers of value-added services (VAS) has raised suspicion among industry experts who suggested that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) may be creating a monopoly, directly or otherwise, in the VAS space.

On its website, the Commission listed licensed companies as Alpha Technologies Limited (Lagos); Callme Nigeria Limited (Abuja); GTS-Infotel Nigeria Limited (Lagos); Cedarview Communications Limited (Lagos); Trium Networks Limited (Lagos); and Interra Networks Limited (Abuja).

Of these companies, only Alpha Technologies, licensed in 2005, is offering VAS long codes services using 0700 and 0800 codes.

The remaining five VAS providers are yet to receive codes from the NCC, several years after they received their license and it is based on this development that the affected operators are accusing the NCC of aiding the creation of a monopoly in the ecosystem which is witnessing an increase in the demand for long codes.

Pierre François, Managing Director of GTS-Infotel, s one of the VAS companies affected, said the development appears to be a deliberate action. "In addition, these unnecessary delays further create the fear of a deliberate creation of a monopoly without giving any room for competitiveness and creativity in the VAS segment of telecoms sector."

"We urge the NCC, as one of the acclaimed best regulatory bodies in Africa and beyond, to do something (urgent) to these concerns. We believe that Nigeria, as the centre of excellence of the ICT in Africa, should through its telecommunications regulatory body show direction to other African countries with respect to the development of a sustainable mobile VAS market, which is a growing sector of the digital economy."

The NCC could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing.