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Telecommunication Companies Protest As FG Orders Stoppage Of Voicemail Service

Telecommunication operators in Nigeria have reacted to Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Patani’s directive of deactivation of automatic voicemail service on existing phone lines.

The Minister stated that phone users were being exploited financially through the automatic voicemail service which should be accessed at the discretion of the subscriber and not by default.

Patani insisted that voicemail is not a popular service among mobile phone users in Nigeria and also has a language challenge among rural dwellers.

A statement by the minister’s spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman, quoted him as saying: ‘’The voicemail service should be accessed at the discretion of the subscriber and not by default. The Honourable Minister finds it worrisome and totally unacceptable, that telecoms subscribers incur financial charges, for a service they are compelled to use by default. Voicemail is not a popular service among mobile phone users in Nigeria, coupled with the language challenge among rural dwellers, who mostly do not understand the language deployed by these networks.

“In the light of this, Dr Pantami has issued a broad policy directive to the sector regulator Nigerian Communications Commission, to immediately ensure that issues regarding automatic voicemails are addressed on all existing phone lines and the subscribers, given the option of accessing the service via an activation code.”

However the Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo who reacted to the directive in a phone interview with Daily Trust said the issue is a regulatory one and shouldn’t come from the Minister.

“The directive is unclear to us. The issue is a regulatory one and we don’t know why the he should a directive. It is an issue NCC is capable of handling’’, Adebayo said.

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