MTN, Glo, others barred from ‘direct sale’ of value added services

MTN, Glo, others barred from ‘direct sale’ of value added services

MTN, Glo, others barred from ‘direct sale’ of value added services

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MTN Nigeria, Glo and other mobile network operators (MNOs) have been barred from direct sale of value added services to their subscribers, Technology Times has learnt.

Mobile Value Added Services are products/services offered via a mobile platform, like Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Message Services, outside of the operator’s core voice service.
These broad range of products/services that add value and offer mobile subscribers flexibility, convenience, assistance and other benefits from the mobile networks are also non-voice revenue streams for operators.

The Nigerian Communications Commission says that “network operators will provide final link to the subscriber for the purpose of delivering value added service to the end user. The operators will not be allowed to host or distribute VAS to its subscribers directly.”

The Nigerian Communications Commission says that “network operators will provide final link to the subscriber for the purpose of delivering value added service to the end user. The operators will not be allowed to host or distribute VAS to its subscribers directly.”

The Big Four MNOs, MTN Nigeria, Glo, Airtel Nigeria and 9Mobile (former Etisalat Nigeria) have a total of 140,350,383 active mobile connections at the end of October, according to NCC.

Value added services stakes: The Big Four MNOs, MTN Nigeria, Glo, Airtel Nigeria and 9Mobile, formerly called Etisalat Nigeria have a combined 140,350,383 active connections at the end of October.
Value added services stakes: The Big Four MNOs, MTN Nigeria, Glo, Airtel Nigeria and 9Mobile, formerly called Etisalat Nigeria have a combined 140,350,383 active connections at the end of October.

In a move to bring the Nigerian VAS industry under regulatory watch, NCC plans to license a VAS Aggregator that takes over the role of dealing directly with content and application developers in the VAS value chain, the regulator says, in a move that may also signal a win for calls to protect smaller players.

The telecoms regulator has also has mapped out the relationship among players in the VAS value chain as follows: Content Developer ⇒ Content Service Provider ⇒ VAS Aggregator ⇒ Mobile Network Operator.

According to NCC, VAS Aggregator will provide direct and secure connection to content and application providers for access to all network operators that have the capability to transmit value added services to end users.

“This service will be limited to multiplexing of signals from various VAS providers and distributing same to all network operators as requested by each content and application provider”, NCC says.

The VAS Aggregator will also provide “direct link to the Internet or International Data Access service providers for content and application providers who wish to market their services globally.”

Under the regulatory regime, Content and applications service providers (present VAS licensees) are the only players that will be allowed to pool, host and distribute content and applications using their own in-house software and hardware platforms.

NCC says the Content and applications service providers “will have direct logical links to operators network. They will not be physically linked directly to the operators, but will have to go through aggregators.”

On the other hand, “Developers are unlicensed, freelance creators of content and applications or those who have franchise on such value added services. They are however not licensed to distribute such services. They also do not need a license from the Commission to market their products, other than simple registration.”

The VAS space is a growing segment of the mobile telephony space that has seen over 108 licences so far issued by the NCC to companies located across Nigeria.

Value Added Services Among Big Four Mobile Network Operators

At MTN Nigeria, the number one mobile phone company promotes offerings ranging from music, comedy to gaming among others, including the company’s popular CallerTunez.

CallerTunez is the service that offers MTN subscribers the unique ability to personalize their ring back tones. By default, phones play the boring and not-so-pleasing “tring-tring” tone. This ability to personalize Ring Back Tones (RBT) has opened new and exciting doors for MTN subscribers, MTN says.

At MTN Nigeria, the number one mobile phone company promotes offerings ranging from music, comedy to gaming among others, including the company's popular valued added service, CallerTunez.
VAS Major: At MTN Nigeria, the number one mobile phone company promotes offerings ranging from music, comedy to gaming among others, including the company’s popular valued added service, CallerTunez.

At Glo Mobile, the mobile business unit of Nigeria’s second national operator, Globacom, the VAS offering “turns your mobile device (phone/tablet) into a wonder in your hands where you get everything and do many other things but all in one place.”

“From news alerts, games, voice portals, learning tools, entertainment apps, health tips, sports tips, social media to chat services, your phone becomes an all in one device for any thing that matters to you as a lifestyle”, according to Glo.

At the home of 9mobile, the operator formerly called Etisalat Nigeria, its VAS offerings include a bouquet ranging from entertainment, finance, news and more. 9mobile’s morecredit for instance its subscribers with access to advance airtime that can be used for any chargeable transaction such as voice, data and additional services available on the network.

At Glo Mobile, the mobile business unit of Nigeria's second national operator, Globacom, the VAS offering "turns your mobile device (phone/tablet) into a wonder in your hands where you get everything and do many other things but all in one place."
All-in-one value added services: At Glo Mobile, the mobile business unit of Nigeria’s second national operator, Globacom, the VAS offering “turns your mobile device (phone/tablet) into a wonder in your hands where you get everything and do many other things but all in one place.”

Also 9mobile’s moretunez “allows you to personalize the tunes your callers hear every time they call you, record the tunes your callers hear and assign special ring back tunes to individual friends and caller groups at different times of the day or week.”

According to 9mobile, “vringo provides fun and entertainment by allowing users to create, set and share their video ringtones; while 9mobile’s mobile newspaper, morenews, provides the most up to date news on the local and international scene, sports, entertainment, fashion and finance, plus the latest job vacancies and more.”
At Airtel Nigeria, the number three operator by subscriber base also offer VAS offering straddling services like mHealth, Marketplace, Credit Loan, Scheme, Music, Mobile Office, Travel Tips, among others.

People seen taking selfie on a mobile phone at a smartphone launch event in Lagos
People seen taking selfie on a mobile phone at a smartphone launch event in Lagos

NCC says its plans “for the control and regulation of the VAS industry in Nigeria is developed in pursuant of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 which empowers the Commission to make subsidiary laws as it deems fit for the purpose of achieving the objectives of the Act.”

The Nigerian telecoms regulator also says the “framework is not totally modelled after any country’s regulatory style or practice, nor does it seek to re-invent the wheel. It was synthesized and adapted to the prevailing economic, social and regulatory conditions in Nigeria and recognized the international Best Practices in its formulation.”

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