The telecommunication operators said yesterday's directive by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy that automatic voicemail service be deactivated on existing phone lines was "unclear to the industry."
The minister, Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Thursday ordered the telecom operators to deactivate automatic voicemail service on all existing mobile lines in the country.
Pantami said telcos were exploiting the consumers financially through by putting them automatically on voicemail service instead of making it optional.
A statement by the minister's spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman, quoted him as saying: "The voicemail service should be accessed at the discretion of the subscriber and not by default. The Honourable Minister finds it worrisome and totally unacceptable, that telecoms subscribers incur financial charges, for a service they are compelled to use by default. Voicemail is not a popular service among mobile phone users in Nigeria, coupled with the language challenge among rural dwellers, who mostly do not understand the language deployed by these networks.
"In the light of this, Dr Pantami has issued a broad policy directive to the sector regulator Nigerian Communications Commission, to immediately 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."
But speaking to Daily Trust on the telephone, the chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, said the voicemail issue was a regulatory issue and should not concern the minister.
"The directive is unclear to us. The issue is a regulatory one and we don't know why the he should a directive. It is an issue NCC is capable of handling", Adebayo said.