Call Masking: NCC confirms Technology Times exclusive report of sanctions against operators

Call Masking: NCC confirms Technology Times exclusive report of sanctions against operators

Call Masking: NCC confirms Technology Times exclusive report of sanctions against operators

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it has imposed a 90-day sanction against an interconnect company confirming Technology Times exclusive report of sanctions over .

Mr Tony Ojobo, Director, Public Affairs at NCC says in a statement made available to Technology Times that varying degree of penalties have been slammed on six companies over alleged call masking activities.

Technology Times had exclusively reported that the Nigerian telecoms regulator plans to impose varying degree of sanctions including a 90-day traffic blockade on interconnect companies allegedly involved in call masking in the Nigerian telecoms industry.

The telecoms regulator says the first wave of penalties which affected interconnect companies and other operators is the first leg of its sweeping action against call masking. The next wave will affect mobile operators and individuals allegedly involved in SIM-boxing.

The telecoms regulator says the first wave of penalties which affected interconnect companies and other operators is the first leg of its sweeping action against call masking. The next wave will affect mobile operators and individuals allegedly involved in SIM-boxing.

A man seen talking on the phone: The Nigerian telecoms regulator says that several companies have been implicated in alleged phone fraud including call masking
A man seen talking on the phone: The Nigerian telecoms regulator says that several companies have been implicated in alleged phone fraud including call masking

Ojobo says the penalties were imposed “following a painstaking investigation process which included collaboration with the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Department of State Services.”

NCC says the accused companies were sanctioned over the alleged “fraudulent practice” of delivering international calls in Nigeria as locall calls, to escape paying international settlement rates.

Ojobo confirms the suspension of Interconnect Clearinghouse License issued to Medallion Communications Limited for a period of 90 days, in the first instance.

NCC also issued “a strong warning” to Interconnect Clearinghouse Nigeria Limited, the telecoms regulator’s spokesman says.

Also affcted were Information Connectivity Solutions Limited (ICSL) and Solid Interconnectivity Services Limited, who were disconnected from all networks, “until they regularize their operations”, NCC adds.

On the other hand, NCC issued letters to Exchange Telecoms Limited, NiconnX Limited and Breeze Micro Limited, “cautioning them against engaging in the fraudulent practice.”

NCC has also barred over 750,000 numbers assigned to several Private Network Links (PNL) and Local Exchange Operator (LEO) licensees, “which number ranges were found to have been utilized for the practice”, Ojobo adds.

“Generally, the practice complained of involves disguising international calls as local calls in order to profit from price differentials between international and local calls. Apart from the resultant loss of revenue by service providers, the practice some also has negative security implications”, the agency’s spokesman says.

A user seen holding a mobile phone: NCC says it "found that some of these were terminating millions of minutes, whereas they only have very few active customers."
A user seen holding a mobile phone: NCC says it “found that some of these were terminating millions of minutes, whereas they only have very few active customers.”

According to him, the telecoms regulator has “recently been inundated with complaints from service providers and consumers regarding the high incidence of call-masking, call-refiling and SIM-Boxing.

“Generally, the practice complained of involves disguising international calls as local calls in order to profit from price differentials between international and local calls. Apart from the resultant loss of revenue by service providers, the practice some also has negative security implications”, the agency’s spokesman says.

Ojobo explains that “regarding the barring of numbers, over 750,000 individual numbers across the nation, made up of about 31 number ranges have been barred.”

The licensees whose numbers have been barred are: Vezeti Communications Services Limited, Voix Networks Limited, Mobitel Limited, Peace Global Satellite Communications Limited, ABG Communications Limited, Vodacom Business Africa (Nigeria) Limited, Swift Telephone Networks Limited, QVODA Telecoms Limited, Wireless Telecoms Limited and Emcatel Networks Limited, NCC says.

Ojobo says that NCC “found that some of these were terminating millions of minutes, whereas they only have very few active customers.”

He explains that “the incidence of call masking has significantly reduced since it commenced a multi-faceted approach to address the menace.”

According to Ojobo, NCC is informing “all stakeholders that the actions so far taken are just the first stage of the exercise. The second stage which has now commenced, will focus on the Mobile Network Operators and other persons involved in SIM-Boxing.”

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