The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has sanctioned three companies and barred 750,000 numbers found to be connected to call masking.
Call masking is a technique used to hide numbers when making calls or sending messages.
In some cases, international numbers are masked with local numbers which are not charged, because the caller’s identity is completely hidden on the network.
In a statement signed by Tony Ojobo on Tuesday, the commission said the sanctioned entities were found to be directly and indirectly involved in several infractions.
“Including covertly allowing organisations with expired licenses 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.”
NCC had previously warned that it would
suspend the licensees of companies suspected of call masking.
After investigations with the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Department of State Services, NCC imposed the following sanctions:
“a. Suspension of the Interconnect Clearinghouse License issued to Medallion Communications Limited for a period of 90 days, in the first instance;
b. Issuance of a strong warning to Interconnect Clearinghouse Nigeria Limited;
c. Disconnection of Information Connectivity Solutions Limited (ICSL) and Solid Interconnectivity Services Limited from all networks, until they regularize their operations;
d. Issuance of letters to Exchange Telecoms Limited, NiconnX Limited and Breeze Micro Limited, cautioning them against engaging in the fraudulent practice; and
e. Barring of 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 utilized for the practice.”
According to the statement, 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.
“Accordingly, every service provider that has been sanctioned still has an opportunity to correct the identified anomalies and satisfy the commission that it should be allowed to continue to operate in Nigeria.”
NCC said the second stage, which has commenced, is focusing on mobile network operators and other persons involved in SIM-Boxing.