DMS: Nigeria yet to deploy mobile device monitoring technology, NCC says

Nigeria has not deployed Device Management System (DMS) offering the government a central control to monitor phones and devices connected to telecoms networks nationwide, according to the telecoms regulator.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says that the proposed DMS that will provide a centralised control system for the government to monitor devices on over 200 million active lines across the country is still work in progress, the telecoms regulator has hinted in a report reviewed by Technology Times.

“The proposed DMS”, Professor Garba Danbatta, NCC Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, says “will provide a single control point for comprehensive device management for mobile communication devices in Nigeria.”

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The telecoms regulatory chief says that Nigeria’s “proposed DMS will support capabilities for tracking of mobile communication devices to eliminate fake and substandard devices, provide detailed statistical information for stakeholders use, and support the fight against cybercrime and insecurity.”   

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Meanwhile, NCC’s plan to monitor phones and devices has come under scrutiny from telecoms operators and industry stakeholders that are calling for the review of some provisions of the Draft Type Approval Business Rules (Draft Business Rules), according to the report of a stakeholders’ meeting on the telecoms rules reviewed by Technology Times.

The NCC EVC/CEO says the public inquiry on the type approval and business rules aligns with the telecoms regulator’s “to review regulatory instruments every five years” to reflect current realities.  

“One of such realities”, he says, “is that with the deployment of 5G, it will become necessary for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to invest heavily in communications infrastructure” while appealing to participants to “be part of this key and important process in the Nigerian communications sector.”

The two key rules, the Type Approval Regulations, provide a framework for the approval of communications equipment for connection to communications networks in Nigeria, while the Business Rules are intended to identify the procedures to be followed before communications equipment otherwise called “products” are used or supplied in the country, the telecoms regulator says.

In its comment calling for a review of the provisions of the proposed rules regarding the planned DMS, MTN Nigeria requested clarity on the system and registration and requested that the provisions stipulating the procedure for the system should also be indicated in the Business Rules.

“The proposed DMS will provide a single control point for comprehensive device management for mobile communication devices in Nigeria.”

Professor Garba Danbatta, NCC Executive Vice Chairman/CEO.

The position of the telco was also echoed by Pavestones Law Firm that “requested for more details on the Device Management System being proposed by the Commission.”

Responding, NCC tells MTN Nigeria that the telcos’s “comment is noted and will be considered in the further review of Regulations.”

While responding to the law firm, the regulator says that the DMS “is still a work in progress and not at the stage of deployment.”

Meanwhile, the Mobile and Wireless Forum (MWF) says that NCC should review the time for processing Type Approvals from four to three weeks.

NCC should also not list laboratories to be considered for Type Approval applications, MWF says, noting that the telecoms regulator should recognise the international accreditation system. 

The Nigerian telecoms regulator “should only accept test reports or test results that are performed by International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) accredited laboratories to improve credibility and predictability of the Type Approval system, according to MWF.

On its part, Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS), owners of the 9mobile brand, want NCC to consider extending the Provisional Type Approval period beyond six months “subject to the merits of each case/request.“

According to EMTS, NCC should have further discussions with manufacturers on the feasibility of each item having the mark of the Commission in a conspicuous place on it while also suggesting that Part 5- Business Rules and Lists of Approved Equipment should include the following:

  • The Commission publicizes supporting documents/documentation required for Equipment Type approvals;
  • The Commission publicize updated blacklist of equipment that will never be Type Approved by the Commission (i.e Network Signal Boosters). 

Device Management System (DMS): NCC’s case for monitoring phones and other smart devices in Nigeria 

NCC in April this year said that the planned deployment of the DMS was developed by NCC with the support from the project Transaction Adviser (TA), Weircapacity Consortium, and the approval of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FGN).

The regulator’s plan was to build the centralised DMS that provides a secure, cost-effective, interoperable technology that integrates with the telecoms regulator, network operating companies, the GSM Association, and global databases under a public-private partnership where the “private party” is expected “to provide end-to-end solution, with a cost recovery-based registration fee charged in Naira per device, for a determined period by both parties.”

Among other features, the DMS will blacklist and render all stolen mobile phones and other smart devices valueless in the Nigerian mobile phones market, when the technology goes live, the regulator says.

It will also serve as a repository for sharing data of stolen devices across all networks as it facilitates the registration and capturing of International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) of all mobile phones and other smart devices.

The DMS, NCC says, ensures that every reported IMEIs that is stolen, illegal mobile phones and other smart devices are blacklisted and shared with all operators across all networks.

The monitoring technology also ensures that unregistered devices do not work in any of the networks in Nigeria, NCC says.