Call Masking: NCC Seeks Subscriber Input as Industry Loses $3bn

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As part of efforts to deepen awareness campaign on call masking which has made the telecom industry to lose $3 billion, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has urged consumers to report the local numbers through which they receive foreign calls for proper tracking

Executive vice chairman of the commission, Professor Umar Danbatta made this known during his opening remarks at the 85th edition of the Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP) held at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos yesterday.

Danbatta who was represented by the director, Consumer Affairs Bureau of the NCC, Mrs. Felicia Onwuegbuchulam called on consumers to be patriotic enough to report call masking cases to the NCC as this will go a long way in assisting the commission to investigate the call masking cases reported, identify the perpetrators and take appropriate regulatory measures towards curbing the menace.

He further disclosed that masking of calls with another number, especially international calls started trending since September 2016 when NCC reviewed and implemented the termination rat for international inbound traffic from N3.90 per minute to N24.40 per minute.

“What is happening is a clear indication that some unscrupulous elements want to continue to fraudulently profit from the earlier lopsidedness in the International Termination Rate (ITR) which we had before the 2016 review”, he said.

The NCC boss stated that Simbox or Interconnect Bypass Fraud (IBF) is one of the most prevalent frauds in the telecom industry. According to him, this is estimated to be costing the industry about $3 billion in lost revenue.

He stressed that the theme of the event ” Overcoming Challenges of call masking/refiling: Task ahead for the Telecoms Industry ” was chosen to brainstorm on the menace of call masking and SIM boxing, their dangers to the industry and ways to curb the menace.

“Call masking is a worrisome development that constitutes serious challenges, not only to the telecoms industry but also poses serious security threats to the entire country. As a commission, we have discovered that call masking is being perpetrated with small movable devices called SIM boxes, which are electronic boxes loaded with SIM numbers.

“A SIM box has capacity to receive and transmit calls undetected. However, the challenge is that these SIM boxes are never type-approved by the commission, a clear indication that they are being used illegally in the country”, he said.

He however disclosed that the commission, in collaboration with different stakeholders and security agencies held series meetings to stamp out the practice in the industry, an act which led to the suspension of six indicted interconnect exchange licensees in February, 2018.

” Not only did the commission suspend the indicted licensees, the regulator Al’s barred about 750,000 numbers assigned to 13 operators from the national network. These numbers were suspected of being used for masking and NCC took a hard, no-compromise stance to withdraw their use”, he added.

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