This may not be the best of time for telecommunications equipment vendors operating in the Nigerian market without appropriate license and mobile phone Original Equipment Manufacturers, OEMs, selling non type-approved mobile handsets as the telecoms regulatory authority, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has vowed to bring culprits to book.
Looking at the Nigerian market, analysis show default among operators in compliance to certain regulatory norms including sale of pre-registered SIM cards, operating with expired license or no license, selling of non type-approved mobile handsets, arbitrary migration subscribers of data bundles among others.
But with intensified compliance monitoring and enforcement activities of the Commission, it may not be business as usual again for equipment vendors and operations across the nations.
Just last week, the enforcement Unit of the Commission embarked on enforcement exercise that ended in sealing of Nokia Office located at CBC tower, Lekki, Lagos and enforcing Innjoo, Chinese mobile phone maker to pay a fine N4 million for selling non type approved handsets in the Nigerian market.
This development according industry watchers, will serve as deterrent to others who have seen the Nigerian market as a place where anything goes.
The Head, enforcement unit of the telecom regulatory authority, Salisu Abdul had told Technology Journalists shortly after sealing the Nokia office last week in Lagos that the mobile equipment manufacturer has been operating in Nigeria without the license for many years.
The license, he informed gives the equipment vendor the power to operate wireless transmission equipment and sales of manufacturing of equipment among others, he said.
He said that Nokia had applied for the license about three months ago but did not complete the process.
“It is criminal for any service provider to operate in the country without license. We have sealed the office until they comply. We have to charge them based on the number of years they have operated without license. We will use our discretion to charge them.
“Equipment vendors,OEMs must comply with local regulations . The NCC is the sole regulator of the telecom sector in Nigeria and one of our functions is the issuance of telecom licenses. In one of our monitoring activities, we discovered that Nokia-Alcatel has not obtained the required authorization to operate their services in this country.
“As a matter of fairness and transparency, we decided to pay them a visit. We however discovered that they only applied for license about three months back and are yet to complete the process for the license. Basically, we have decided to seal off the premises of Nokia until they obtain the requisite authorization.
“The license is barely two million naira to obtain. We have sealed off the premises and we will not open it till they comply. The penalty is dependent on the number of years they’ve been on ground. We might have to levy a fine against Nokia before unsealing the premises.
Meanwhile, following the closure of the Nokia office in Lekki, Lagos, Nokia will like to assure all stakeholders that, “The temporary closing of our administrative office in Lagos is an important matter to us. We continue to closely collaborate with NCC and are accelerating our efforts to quickly regularize our licence. We remain fully committed to delivering world-class connectivity solutions to the Nigerian market and positively contributing to the country socio-economic development,” according to a Nokia Regional official.
The enforcement Unit of NCC last week had visited Aviat Network Limited for enforcement action but discovered that the equipment vendor has fully complied with their license obligation. This development made Aviat Network to escape the regulatory sanction of the Commission.
In an committed effort to sanitise the Nigerian market from substandard mobile devices, the enforcement unit of the NCC also sanctioned Innjoo, Chinese mobile phone maker with a fine of N4 million for selling non type approved handsets in the Nigerian market. The sanction necessited the Commission to seal their office late last year.
This development may have also sent a strong message to foreign OEMs in the computer village ikeja importing all manners of cellular handsets without type-approval by NCC.
Although payment was done after several months of grace by the Commission, one thing is clear. It is no more business as usual for defaulters who fail to comply with the local regulations.
The Head, enforcement unit of the telecom regulatory authority, Salisu Abdu who also led the enforcement team while speaking with Technology Journalists in Lagos shortly after the payment of the N4 million fine by Innjoo said that the sanction has been suspended following the payment.
He said that the telecoms regulatory authority had in August, 2015 carried out an enforcement action against Innjoo and discovered that the company was selling devices not type approved by NCC.
“As a result of the enforcement action, a fine of N4 million was imposed on them and their office was sealed. We are in Innjo office today for enforcement action. We have been engaging with them. They have decided not to pay the fine. We have decided to come today for enforcement action.
“When we got here, they told us that they have actually not received a notice of sanction. Honestly, a letter was sent to a lawyer representing Innjor technology limited. So when we gave them a copy of the letter of sanction today, they immediately complied. They have paid the fine of 4 million and the sanction has been suspended. This is a warning to other phone manufacturers to get their devices type approved by NCC. This is an opportunity for them to get necessary type- approval .It is an offence to sell devices not type approved by NNC”, he said.
All equipment manufacturers, vendors and operators, including customer devices such as mobile phones and wireless adapters, he added must therefore ensure that their equipment conform to the applicable standards as mandated by the Commission before bringing them into Nigeria.
To ensure maximum interoperability and affordability for consumers, the Type Approval standards set by the Nigerian Communications Commission, he saidare based on international standards.