NCC orders MTN, Glo and Airtel to block SIMs not linked with NIN

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has restated its instruction to telecom operators, emphasizing the necessity to block sim cards of telephone subscribers who haven’t linked their National Identification Numbers (NINs) by February 28, 2024.

Dr Aminu Maida, Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, addressed this matter during the ongoing 45th Kaduna International Trade Fair. Represented by Mr. Reuben Mouka, NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Maida stressed the imperative of linking NINs to SIMs for critical national security. He reiterated the February 28th deadline for operators to bar subscribers failing to comply with the directive.

block sim NCC orders MTN, Glo and Airtel to block SIMs not linked with NIN

To this end, the National Communication Commission has directed all telecommunication operators to bar phone lines of subscribers whose lines are not linked to their NINs on or before February 28, 2024,” he added.

Maida highlighted the alignment of this directive with the commission’s commitment to promoting local content development in the telecom industry, ensuring consumer rights protection, and satisfaction, and fostering an environment for accessible, affordable, and equitable services to support the nation’s economic growth.

As a regulator of the telecommunications sector in the country, the Commission carries out its functions to ensure service availability, affordability, and sustainability for all categories of consumers, who are leveraging on ICT/Telecoms to drive personal and business activities,” he said.

NCC’s commitment and initiatives

Highlighting the Telecom Consumer Assistance, Resolution, and Enquiries (TELCARE) Desk, the NCC underscores collaborative efforts for customer issue resolution, envisioning a more dynamic telecommunications industry contributing to economic recovery and growth.

As of 2023, the industry’s GDP contribution stands at 13.5%, emphasizing the role of local content development. The NCC’s commitment to consumer rights and satisfaction is evident, urging telecom companies to prioritize service standards. A key directive, implementing Harmonized Short Codes, ensures a uniform platform for over 224 million mobile users, enhancing accessibility across networks.

In Maida’s words, “The new initiative is enabling consumers using the over 224 million active mobile telephone lines in Nigeria to use the same codes to access services across all networks.

Read More: NCC suspends January 18 disconnection of Globacom services by MTN for 21 days

NCC’s directive to block sims and challenges with NIN linkage

The recent directive from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) instructing telecom operators, including giants like MTN and Glo, to block SIM cards not linked to National Identification Numbers (NINs) has stirred a complex landscape of implementation challenges and consumer concerns.

As telecom operators work towards compliance, several hurdles have emerged, complicating the execution of this directive. One notable challenge lies in the sheer scale of the task. With millions of subscribers nationwide, the process of ensuring each SIM is properly linked to a unique NIN poses a logistical challenge for operators. The extensive coordination required to handle this immense volume of data and verification procedures is a significant bottleneck.

Moreover, technical challenges have surfaced, ranging from system integrations to potential server overloads. The surge in users attempting to link their SIMs to NINs has strained the infrastructure, leading to occasional system downtimes and slower processing speeds. This technical strain, in turn, has raised concerns among consumers about service interruptions and delays in resolving their SIM-NIN linkage.

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Issues related to data privacy and security have been raised, with some expressing reservations about sharing sensitive personal information. Ensuring that the process adheres to strict privacy standards and that consumer data remains secure throughout the linkage process is a paramount concern.

The timeline set by the NCC for the implementation of the directive has also added pressure. Some consumers have reported difficulties in accessing registration centres promptly, leading to worries about potential service disruptions as the deadline looms.

The communication gap between the regulatory bodies and consumers has further fueled concerns. Clear and concise communication about the process, requirements, and potential challenges is crucial for building consumer confidence. As operators navigate the intricacies of this implementation, fostering transparency and providing regular updates becomes imperative.

Read More: President Tinubu appoints Ibrahim Adeyanju as Galaxy Backbone CEO amid other NCC new executives

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