ATCON to telcos: Notify your customers before line deactivation


The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has advised its members to ensure they notify their customers before deactivating and re-allocating their lines. 

This followed recent subscriber concerns over the re-allocation of unused Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) by telecom operators.

President of the association, Mr. Olusola Teniola, who gave the advice, said though the operators were not under any obligation to do this, it would be an extension of their customer care service. 

“Telecom operators must improve their customer service by ensuring that the subscribers are informed before their lines are de-activated. Of course, they are not under any obligation to do so, but this will show that they care for their customers and there won’t be the issue of somebody claiming a line that has been deactivated and re-allocated to another customer,” he said.

Recall that a man identified as Anthony Okolie ran into trouble recently for buying and using a line previously used by President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter. While many subscribers have also had different experiences with SIM deactivation and reallocation to another user, Teniola said good communication on the part of the service providers would address some of the issues.

“In the case of Buhari’s daughter, it was unfortunate that the person was arrested and spent some time under DSS custody because that was totally unnecessary. If the service provider had informed her that her line would be deactivated, that would not have happened,” he said.

While allaying the fears of subscribers over possible dangers of buying a reallocated SIM, the ATCON president said with full registration of the SIM after purchase, the new owner is covered. 

“Subscribers do not need to fear buying new SIM, what they need do is to ensure that they register the SIM immediately and make sure that the new SIM bears their full details on the operator’s database,” he said.

While justifying the need for telecoms operators to reallocate numbers, Teniola said the numbers were scarce resources, which the operators pay for annually, hence, the need to re-allocate to avoid wastage.

“MSSIDN, the telephone number that we use are owned by the government, the government sells the MSSIDN to licensed operators who now sell it to consumers to provide mobile telephoning and data services. 

“When an individual uses a number on a pre-paid plan, that number is assumed to be used constantly. And if it is not used after 30 days, 60 days, or 180 days, depending on what the service provider allows, then the service provider has every right to either de-activate the number or re-allocate it.

“In the case of Buhari’s daughter, the service provider deemed it wise to re-issue the number because the subscriber had left the country and had not used the number for months, which means that the number was to be de-activated and reallocated to a new subscriber.

“The reason operators reallocate numbers after it has been out of use for some time is that they do not want to waste numbers. They pay for these numbers on an annual basis to the government through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC),” he explained.


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