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NTA will seek clarification from Ncell over auto-renewal of data packs and other services. The telcos governing body has concluded that Ncell, Nepal’s second-largest telecom operator, accumulated over Rs. 1.14 billion from auto-renewal of services without customers’ consent. Ncell is given 15 days to turn in its response to the possible fraud allegations.
Being a regulatory body of telecom operators, NTA has the authority to investigate and stamp its authority on telcos if it receives complaints from citizens. In this case, too, NTA has called on Ncell for their possible ‘fraudulent’ practices after Ncell customers complained that the services on their SIM had been auto-renewed without their knowledge. NTA has not yet incriminated the private telco and will wait on it for a response. NTA’s next plan of action will depend on Ncell’s counterargument.
NTA has alleged that Ncell forcibly renewed data packs and services without its customers’ consent. The telecom governing body estimates that Ncell profited Rs. 1.14 billion in two years from its possible malpractices. Now, it is sternly demanding an answer from Ncell over its service abuses.
Regarding Ncell’s unauthorized operations, NTA’s Board of Directors sat for a meeting this Monday (July 3). The Board concluded that Ncell will be liable to penalties as per Nepal Telecommunications Act’s Article 47 and has sought an answer from the country’s largest telecom operator.
It is not the first time Ncell has been dragged into such controversy. Last year in June, NTA had penalized private telco Ncell over unauthorized value-added services and other dubious practices. Ncell had to pay over Rs. 1 million in fines in return.
NTA has sent a letter to Ncell seeking clarification last Wednesday (June 30) over auto-renewal of services without customers’ consent. NTA Chairman Purushottam Khanal said, ‘NTA has sent a letter to Ncell as decided by the board. Further actions will follow only after Ncell comes with a response,’ he added.
Back in September, NTA had reminded its concerns to Ncell over possible loopholes in their service operations. The telecom authority had stepped up after complaints about Ncell renewing data packs and services without the customers’ knowledge. The current decision follows NTA’s 8 months-long investigations into the detail of customers who had suffered from the forced resumption of services.
NTA is keeping Ncell in check for its auto subscription and auto-renewal of some services and data packs. It believes the telco ran a series of these unauthorized acts over two years from Jestha 2075 to Baisakh 2077. Ncell is found to have activated services without NTA’s approval on their cost on Huawei Games Content, Business Handling fee, Gameloft, etc.
NTA’s investigation assumes that the private telco amassed over Rs. 1.14 billion over two years period from its unauthorized practices, Kantipur Reports. Ncell supposedly collected over Rs. 10.2 million from Gameloft services alone.
“NTA had demanded that Ncell rectify its VAS auto-renewal issue, but Ncell’s acts have been contradictory. This is why NTA is now seeking legal action on the telco as per the Nepal Telecommunications Act Article 47. If Ncell fails to turn in a convincing response within 15 days, NTA will proceed to act, the Board meeting decided.
The Telecommunications Act’s Article 47 states that if any individual or a firm fails to conform to the terms and conditions, they will be liable to the penalty of up to Rs. 50,000. The code also holds that if anybody has suffered directly from the malpractices, the culpable party will have to compensate for it. NTA has informed that it found Ncell was not adhering to the directives issued by NTA and in case they do not receive a convincing rationale, the telecom authority will have Ncell pay heavy fines for it.
NTA has not given its verdict on Ncell yet. The alleged ‘autorenewal’ case will take its further course only after Ncell comes with a response. For now, the private telco is given 15 days to make its argument. Ncell is Nepal’s second-largest telecom operator and among the highest taxpaying firms.
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Have you ever witnessed Ncell automatically subscribing or auto-renewing any service on your SIM card? Let us know your experience with the country’s second-largest telecom operator in the comments.