All you need to know about the new Closed User Group (CUG) service rules by NCC

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Closed user groups let users send and receive SMS as well as make calls within a certain group.
All you need to know about the new Closed User Group (CUG) service rules by NCC

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has recently unveiled a set of revised rules and conditions for operators offering Closed User Group (CUG) services within the country’s telecommunications industry.

These changes, set to come into effect on November 1, 2023, aim to streamline the regulations surrounding Closed User Group (CUG) services and their impact on users. This article breaks down the key changes and their impact on users.

What is a Closed User Group (CUG)?

CUG services are supplementary offerings that mobile operators like MTN, Glo and Airtel offer to their customers. They let users send and receive SMS as well as make calls within a certain group.

This service is very important for various entities, including large corporate organizations, government bodies, not-for-profit Organizations, duly registered residential estate associations, trade associations, and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

The NCC’s new conditions for Closed User Group services outline specific requirements and limitations for both operators and users. Here is a simplified explanation of the key changes.

All you need to know about the revised Closed User Group (CUG) service rules by NCC
Minimum and Maximum Subscribers

Closed User Group (CUG) offerings must now include a minimum of three Mobile Station International Subscriber Directory Numbers (MSISDNs) or three users, and a maximum limit depending on the category of the organisation using it:

  • For MSMEs, the revised rules allow a maximum of 200 subscribers
  • Resident Estates Associations may register as many as 2,000 subscribers
  • For Not-for-profits and NGOs, the maximum number of users allowed is 10,000
  • Government Agencies are allowed to register as many as 20,000 subscribers in a CUG
  • Large Corporate Organizations have the largest maximum allowed with up to 30,000 subscribers
  • Trade Associations can only register 2,000 subscribers
Pricing Clarity

The NCC has introduced clear pricing guidelines for CUG services. The minimum access fee for prepaid and postpaid Closed User Group (CUG) Services will be N400, with a maximum of N5,000.

Moreover, CUG services are now limited to voice calls and SMS only, and they must not be bundled with Data, Value-Added Services (VAS), or other ancillary services. With calls and SMS considered basic essential communication services, they must remain separate from data, Value-Added Services (VAS), or other ancillary offerings in CUGs.

Call and SMS Rates

The NCC has set minimum rates for calls and SMS within a CUG (on-net) at N0.50/min for voice services and N1.02 for SMS. For calls outside the CUG (off-net), the price floor is N6.40/min for voice services and N1.02 for SMS. The price cap for voice calls is N50/min, and SMS messages are priced at N4 each.

Streamlined Registration

To make the process easier for organizations and operators, certain documents are now mandatory for Closed User Group (CUG) registration:

  • For Large Corporate Organizations, Not-for-Profit Organizations, and MSMEs, documents include business registration, Tax Identification Number (TIN), a signed contract agreement, proof of identification of members, the National Identification Number (NIN) of two company representatives, and a formal request for the service signed by two company representatives.
  • For Trade Associations and Resident Estates Associations, similar documents are required, including business registration, TIN, a signed contract agreement, proof of identification of members, the NIN of two representatives, and a request for the service signed by two trustees or members of the association. Each subscriber must provide a valid means of identification.
  • Government Agencies need to provide a signed contract agreement, proof of identification of members, a list of staff IDs, and the NIN of two company representatives. A formal request for the service must also be signed by two company representatives.
Reporting and Compliance

Operators are required to submit quarterly reports to the Commission, detailing newly registered CUGs, new subscribers added to existing CUGs, and subscribers who have left an existing Closed User Group (CUG). This ensures transparency and accountability in the provision of CUG services.

Effective Date and Flexibility

These simplified rules take effect from November 1, 2023, and will remain valid and binding on licensees until further reviewed by the Commission. However, according to the report, the Commission reserves the right to adjust these conditions as needed, ensuring the rules remain relevant and responsive to the evolving telecom landscape.

The NCC’s revised conditions for offering Closed User Group (CUG) services bring clarity, simplicity, and transparency to the telecom industry.

These changes benefit both operators and subscribers, ensuring that CUG services are easily accessible and fairly priced while maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements.

Read Also: NCC introduces “02” prefix for fixed telephone lines in Nigeria


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