NCC rules out licence revocation in ‘call masking’ row

NCC rules out licence revocation in ‘call masking’ row

NCC rules out licence revocation in ‘call masking’ row

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The telecoms regulator today ruled out operating licence revocation as sanction against six companies allegedly implicated in call masking activities in the Nigerian telecoms market.

The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) had issued a January 31, 2018 deadline to six interconnect operators to show cause why their licence should not be revoked over call masking allegations.

Sunday Dare, Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management at NCC dropped the hint that licence revocation “will be last resort” when he told journalists at the sidelines of NCC Stakeholder Forum held in Lagos that revocation of operating licenses of the affected companies will be inimical to the growth of the telecoms sector.

Dare says that NCC is now reviewing the responses of the affected companies and the final verdict of the Commission will be released within the next one week.

”We are in the process of reviewing their responses and that will determine which of the licensees will either be suspended or revoked. But revocation will be the last resort and I can tell you that because we want to make the telecoms industry healthy”, the NCC Commissioner says.

According to Dare, the affected companies “have been co-operating with the Commission. We might see some suspension; we might see some sanction but revocation is the last resort. I don’t really see that. We want to work with them. We don’t want to create any stress within the telecoms industry.”

Technology Times file photo shows a young man seen using a mobile phone walking inside Computer Village in Ikeja, Lagos.
Technology Times file photo shows a young man seen using a mobile phone walking inside Computer Village in Ikeja, Lagos.

Call masking technologies allow operators to terminate inbound international telecoms traffic as local calls so they don’t have to pay International Termination Rate (ITR), which is the interconnection charges set by telecoms traffic carriers as carrier-to-carrier charges.

NCC last month alleged that six interconnect clearing companies, Interconnect Clearinghouse Nigeria Limited; Medallion Communications Limited; Niconnx Communication Limited; Breeze Micro Limited; Solid Interconnectivity and Exchange Telecommunications Limited, were affected in call masking activities in the country. The affected companies were last month given till January 31 to show cause why their licence should not be revoked over alleged call masking activities.

Mr. Sunday Dare, Executive Commissioner (Stakeholder Management) of the Nigerian Communications Commission

The telecoms regulator said its threat to either revoke or suspend the operating licence of the six affected companies was based on alleged evidence of their involvement at the disposal of NCC and security agencies in the country.

According to Dare, the affected companies “have been co-operating with the Commission. We might see some suspension; we might see some sanction but revocation is the last resort. I don’t really see that. We want to work with them. We don’t want to create any stress within the telecoms industry.”

The NCC and security agencies have been monitoring the activities of the affected companies and NCC “will impose the maximum possible penalties on any of its licensees implicated in the practice of masking of international telephone calls”, he adds.

Nigeria remains a choice destination for the exchange of telecoms traffic because of the market numbers estimated to have grown above 140 million active phone lines.

According to the market information by NCC, the Nigerian telecoms market has 142,320,120 active phone connections by November 2017 split among MTN Nigeria 51,414,345 (36.23%); Globacom 37,467,184 (26.40%); Airtel Nigeria 35,943,063 (25.33%) and 9mobile 17,075,813 (12.03%), and other smaller operators.

Kolade Akinola Technology Journalist at Technology Times Mobile: + 234 (0) 807 401 6027

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