NCC to tighten noose on communications fraud

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said it has zero tolerance for  ‘Communications Fraud’ in the market.

Communications Fraud entails the use of telecommunications products or services with the intention of illegally acquiring money from, or failing to pay, a telecommunication company or its customers.

Speaking at the stakeholders’ forum convened by the Commission to present cost based study for the determination of mobile voice termination rate, Professor Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, said that is working to ensure sanity in the sector, especially with regards consumer products.

A comprehensive report of a seminal study undertaken by PriceWaterhouseCoopers for the telecommunication industry in Nigeria with a thematic focus on cost based determination of mobile voice termination rate, was presented to industry stakeholders at the Nigerian Communications Commission Head Office in Abuja, during the week.

Prof. Danbatta however, solicited assistance, understanding and collaboration to deliver on project objectives.

The EVC remarks delivered by Miss Josephine Amuwa, director policy competition and Economic Analysis at the Commission, called on stakeholders to supply industry statistical data promptly because of its centrality in the determination of appropriate interconnection termination rates.

An impeccable and functional interconnection regime is pivotal to enhancing competition and effective regulation.

The imperative of the project evidently found expression in the exponential growth in the number of subscribers, as well as in the volume of traffic on the networks, which are both shaped by the dynamics of technologies, and the existential realities of the global financial markets. Danbatta told the audience which is quite representative of the diversity of the industry.

Importantly, Danbatta noted that NCC has a duty to ensure that interconnection services are fairly priced, non-discriminatory, and reflect the real cost of providing such services in the market.

The EVC said he was quite pleased that the study will among other benefits provide opportunity to thoroughly examine the emergence of grey market activities in the telecoms industry in Nigeria such as call refiling, call masking, and SIM-Box fraud following the introduction of an interim International Termination Rate (ITR) for inbound international traffic.

Call Refiling, according to Wikipedia, is a form of interconnect fraud in which one carrier tampers with CID (caller-ID) or ANI data to falsify the number from which a call originated before handing the call off to a competitor.

“Refiling and interconnect fraud briefly made headlines in the aftermath of the Worldcom financial troubles; the refiling scheme is based on a quirk in the system by which telcos bill each other – two calls to the same place may incur different costs because of differing displayed origin. A common calculation of payments between telcos calculates the percentage of the total distance over which each telco has carried one call to determine division of toll revenues for that call; refiling distorts data required to make these calculations”.

Call Masking one’s telephone number, on the other hand, is simply having the means to either disguise the telephone number or display it as a different number as is the case for many companies who use what are known as non-geographical numbers, while A SIM box fraud is a setup in which fraudsters install SIM boxes with multiple low-cost prepaid SIM cards.

The fraudster then can terminate international calls through local phone numbers in the respective country to make it appear as if the call is a local call.

Accordingly, the Study’s eleven (11) focus areas include developing measures to reduce or eliminate grey markets in the telecoms industry in Nigeria; evaluation of the subsisting interconnect regime; and to determine if there is need for different termination rate for national/domestic and international traffic. – Agency report.



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