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NCC shops for technology to curtail call masking

NCC shops for technology to curtail call masking

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Ife Ogunfuwa

The Nigerian Communications Commission has initiated moves to curb illegal activities of call masking, refiling and SIM boxing in the industry.

It was gathered that the commission had given approval to five companies to present the evidence of the design of their software and equipment that could detect and prevent interconnect traffic bypass and SIM boxing activities.

In its compliance report, the NCC said, “In order to curtail these illegal activities, the commission has issued approval to five companies to carry out ‘Proof of Concepts’ of their software and equipment that they claim can either block or completely stop call masking, call refiling and SIM boxing activities.”

Call masking is an act of concealing international calls coming into the country by presenting them as local calls, in order to make profits from the difference in price between international and local calls.

Call refiling is a form of interconnect fraud in which one carrier tampers with the Call ID, to falsify the number from which a call originated before passing it to a competitor; while SIM box fraud is the termination of international calls through local phone number using SIM boxes with multiple low-cost prepaid SIM cards.

The telecom regulator had earlier in the year sanctioned telecommunication operators that were identified to be involved in call masking, by suspending the operating licences of some and issuing warning letters to others.

The commission made this move after investigating complaints from service providers and consumers, regarding the high incidence of call masking, refiling and SIM boxing in the country.

The NCC, through the Director of Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, had also announced the barring of over 750,000 numbers assigned to several Private Network Links and Local Exchange Operator licensees that were discovered to be used in call masking.

The commission gave the opportunity to the service providers that had been sanctioned to correct the anomalies and convince it that they should be allowed to continue to operate in the country.

However, checks by our correspondent on Friday showed that the illegal activities persisted as several subscribers presented evidence of international calls masked as local calls, in response to the commission’s enquiry on social media.

Speaking with our correspondent, the President, Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Olusola Teniola, noted that one other option the commission should consider, in curbing the illegal activities, was providing a single international gateway for operators.

“The NCC has several options on its table and one of them is a technology solution. That technology solution involves not only software but also a single international gateway that will be monitored, managed and controlled by the NCC, International Data Access operators, Major Network Operators, and other parties they feel will be beneficial to the proper operation and maintenance of the gateway,” he said.

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