NCC sanctions telecom operators for call masking

Telecommunications firms involved in call masking and other related offences have been penalised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The NCCa��s action followed complaints from service providers and consumers on the high incidence of call-masking, call-re-filing and SIM-Boxing.
The industry regulator said that the affected companies were involved in disguising international calls as local calls in order to profit from price differentials between international and local calls.
NCC said that beside the loss of revenue by service providers, the practice has very daring security implications for the country.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, NCCa��s Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo, said that after a painstaking investigation by the commission in collaboration with the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Department of State Services (DSS), it had imposed various sanctions on licensees linked with the fraudulent practice. The sanctions, according to Ojobo, included the suspension of the Interconnect Clearinghouse License issued to Medallion Communications Limited for 90 days, in the first instance, and issuance of a strong warning to Interconnect Clearinghouse Nigeria Limited.
Others, he said, were the disconnection of Information Connectivity Solutions Limited (ICSL) and Solid Interconnectivity Services Limited from all networks, until they regularise their operations; cautioning of Exchange Telecoms Limited, NiconnX Limited and Breeze Micro Limited against engaging in the fraudulent practice.
Similarly, the NCC 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 utilised for the practice.
The sanctioned firms, Ojobo continued were found to be directly and indirectly complicit in several infractions, such as covertly allowing organisations with expired licences to transit calls; failure to undertake due diligence on parties seeking to interconnect; deliberately turning a blind eye to masking infractions by interconnect partners, and using a licence issued to another organisation to bring-in and terminate international calls which were masked as local calls to other operators.
On the barring of numbers, He said that, a�?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. The Commission found that some of these were terminating millions of minutes, whereas they only have very few active customers.a�?
He however said that the a�?Commission is pleased to note that the incidence of call masking has significantly reduced since it commenced a multi-faceted approach to address the menace. The Commission hereby informs all stakeholders that the actions so far taken are just the first stage of the exercise. The second stage which has commenced will focus on the Mobile Network Operators and other persons involved in SIM-Boxing.

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