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Voicemails: ALTON reacts, laments ‘unnecessary interference by the Ministry’





  • States why MNOs reintroduced it

Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has reacted to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami’s directive for a regulatory intervention to guide VoiceMail (VM) services rendered by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).

Recall, the Minister on Thursday, November 14, 2019 directed the telecom industry regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to 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.

The directive was contained in a press statement from the office of the Minister, signed by the Spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman (Mrs).



Appearing somewhat dismayed by the directive, ALTON, said they “believe that the Minister was misquoted”.

Read the statement endorsed by ALTON Chairman, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, in full:

“Our attention has been drawn to yet another directive by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy on Deactivation of Voice Mail Protocol by Service Providers’ Network.

“In as much that we want to believe that the Minister was misquoted.

“However, our position on Voicemail Directive by the Minister

“Voicemail (VM) is a value-added service. Only those who opt-in should have it.

“The current practice on some networks is that once you call and the recipient doesn’t pick, you get a voice prompt saying that the subscriber is not available and asking you to record a voice message *after the tone*.

“For the avoidance of doubt, you (as a consumer) are not billed anything, but if you delay, you may be charged for a few seconds, or for the time it takes you to record the message.


“The recipient of the voice mail does not get charged for listening. It is free.

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NCC - Nigerian Communications Commission

“VM is a value added service and it should only be provisioned for those who expressly request for it. It may be recalled that MNOs reintroduced the VM facility to discourage people who “flash” continuously.“Flashing wastes network resources and also degrades QoS reporting. This should not however justify the practise the way it is being done by some networks

“However, this is not a major “policy issue” within the meaning of S. 23&24 of the NCA which empower the Minister to formulate “general policy for the communications sector…” (after consultations organised by the NCC!). It is a mere operational/consumer protection issue which the Ministry can simply call NCC’s attention to.


ALTON Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo

“It is a purely consumer related issues that minister refers to as a major policy issue and it also amounts to unnecessary interference by the Minister contrary to Section 25 subsections 1 & 2 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003.


Danbatta, Pantami and Adebayo, during a recent meeting

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