By Staff Reporter
THE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has disclosed that there is no truth in the news being peddled by some social media platforms that all telecoms networks and relevant information and communications technology (ICT) units, including online transfer facilities of the banks, with effect from today, February 23, will shut down because of the elections.
NCC, which described the social media news as fraudulent and misleading information, in a statement, Thursday, signed by its Director of Public Affairs, Reuben Muoka, advised the Nigerian public, consumers of telecommunications services, and all bank customers to ignore these or similar messages that insinuate deliberate network shutdown or disruption of services in the Nigerian telecoms network.
The telecoms regulator said these malicious and subversive messages originated and are being circulated by fraudsters and unscrupulous elements in the society with the intent to cause chaos and panic among the populace.
“The Commission has received unequivocal assurances from all the service providers to the effect that all the network services are currently in optimal performance, and will not witness any deliberate shutdown or disruptions, especially at this very crucial period of general elections in the country.
“Therefore, all users of telecommunications and banking services utilizing network facilities are assured of continued optimal service delivery before, during, and after the general elections in Nigeria,” NCC stated.
MEANWHILE, earlier in the day, in response to the mis-interpretation and subsequent apprehension that greeted a notice from telecommunications firm, MTN, titled: ‘Network Change’, where it was stated that there would be network freeze during the forthcoming general elections, the telecoms firm has come out to explain what it planned to do.
In the notice, MTN had said: “Dear esteemed customer, please be informed of the Planned Network freeze period for the 2023 National Election to enable proper management of customers’ expectations.
“During the Freeze period, all activity that will impact the network has been put on hold. The freeze period is 1. Presidential and National legislative elections (six days), starting from February 24 to March 1, 2023.
“2. Gubernatorial and State Assemblies elections (six days), starting from March 10 to March 15, 2023.”
MTN added that the start and end dates are inclusive for the freeze period and activities will return to normal after the periods.
However, following the confusion that greeted the plan, MTN later sent another notice with the title: “About the network freeze: We don’t implement changes on our network during critical times to minimize the chance of on outage. Keeping the network as is, is a common practice in telecoms referred to as a Network Freeze.”
Giving further details on the matter, a source within the telecoms firm, explained to Upfrontdigital that during the period of freeze, “there will be no core works, upgrades or maintenance as these may cause changes on the network and disrupt service. The aim is to restrict non-essential activities on the network for a critical period like the elections.
“Freeze is carried out essentially, during periods such as festivities like Christmas, New Year, elections, among others.”
The source, who said the notice was actually not meant for public consumption, except to some major customers like the Chief Executive Officers of some major companies, said “the network freeze will ensure non-interruption of telecommunications services and continued digital connectivity of election-related communications during the election period.
“It is a period where the network is expected to be stable as there will be no changes on the network. The operators will only interfere when there is an emergency.”
The source disclosed that network freeze is not limited to MTN alone, “I guess other networks too would do the same. It is done to forestall any unwarranted disruptions to telecoms infrastructure. Remember, some INEC infrastructure (BVAS) ride on our infrastructure. So, we just all must be careful.”