It is a common reality for Nigerians to look down at their phones at the sound of their message tone and rather than encountering a text from a colleague, friend or loved one bearing relevant news, they are met with promotional texts or nuisance text messages.
Nigeria’s telecoms regulator has directed phone networks to give subscribers the option of activating a ‘do not disturb’ (DND) feature to prevent being spammed by these nuisance text messages.
Networks from now on will have to provide a code “to allow any subscriber who does not want to receive unwanted messages from the operators bar such messages.”
“A Full DND which is SMS “STOP” to 2442 does not allow the subscribers to receive any unsolicited message from the operators at all.”
This is very welcome news considering the rate of delivery of these promotional messages are often more than necessary texts. The promotional spam text culture has been mainly driven by companies providing subscription-based information services that range from daily news to health, business and finance tips at a cost.
In a bid to boost their subscription numbers and revenue, networks have been known to offer one week trials after which a subscriber becomes automatically listed and charged for the service unless they expressly ask for it to be cancelled.
It is a detested practice as many subscribers are not even aware of their subscriptions and end up being charged for weeks without knowledge of being actively subscribed to the service.
While the Nigeria Communication Commission focuses on the regulation of these promotional texts, there has also been speculation that they will soon turn their sights on applying similar policies to caller ring back tones (CRBT) services.
Like the spam promotional texts, many mobile users are often signed up to various local hit songs as their ring back tones without their knowledge or approval.
The ring back tones have become a key revenue source for the local music industry as physical music sales have steadily declined, some people however are tired of the confusing subscription service.
In enforcing the new policy, Umar Danbatta, Nigeria Communication Commission’s executive vice Chairman has warned of “huge sanctions” for non-compliant networks.