MTN has another fine to pay in Nigeria and more may come

As Nigeria’s largest telecommunications company, MTN continues negotiating a $5.2 billion fine slapped on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the regulator said on Monday it had issued a notice of intention to sanction the telco again for another offence.

According to the NCC, MTN and two other operators, Airtel and Globacom defied the directive on automatic migration to Pay-As-You-Go data bundle.

This was contained in the regulator’s ‘2015 3Q Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Report’ obtained by The Nerve.

NCC based its decision on continued complaints from subscribers on automatic migration of data bundle package to Pay-As-You-Go Billing on depletion of their data bundle.

‘‘Consequently and pursuant to section 53(1) of the NCA 2003, the commission on 3rd August 2015 directed all mobile service operators to comply with the data bundle directions.

‘‘That where a subscriber’s data bundle account is fully depleted before the due date, service providers should notify the subscriber via SMS, giving information regarding the tariff/ billing rate for automatic migration.

‘‘That all service providers should henceforth stop auto-migration of subscriber’s data service to the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) account upon depletion of the data bundle account, except with the express consent and authorisation of the subscriber via SMS,’’ it said.

NCC followed up the directive with a compliance check was carried out which revealed that only Etisalat complied with the directives.

‘‘Globacom is in compliance with Direction No. 1 as subscribers receive SMS detailing tariff rate for auto-migration on depletion of their data bundle.

‘‘However, Globacom failed to obtain express consent from subscribers before migration to PAYG and therefore in violation of Direction No. 2.

‘‘MTN is in compliance with Direction No.1 but failed to highlight the tariff rate for PAYG billing. In addition, data service is not suspended on depletion of the data bundle account even without an authorisation via an SMS from the subscriber.

‘‘Airtel is not in compliance with the above directions,’’ NCC said.

The regulator also asked MTN to pay a fine of N21.8 million for selling pre‐registered SIM Cards.