By Emmanuel Elebeke
ABUJA — The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, says the Nigerian telecom industry loses about $60 billion dollars annually to call masking.
Call masking is a process where international calls are terminated as local calls.
This NCC said has posed serious threat to the telecom industry but noted that the Commission has proffered solution to the problem.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta dropped the hint on Thursday at the 86th Edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP), entitled: “Overcoming Challenges of Call Masking/Refiling: Task Ahead for the Telecom Industry, on Thursday in Abuja.
Danbatta, who spoke through the Executive Commissioner Stakeholders management, Sunday Dare, noted that globally $54-$60 is lost to call masking but added that the Commission is taking proactive measures to curb the menace.
He said: “We don’t have the exact figures for Nigeria but globally $54-$60 is lost to call masking. Which shows that it is a global menace which is not specific to Nigeria and it is possible because of innovative technology that is available. We talk about the VIOP which is Voice Over Internet Protocol, we talk about the OTT; Over The Top platforms where you do WhatsApp and all other video calls. These are innovations and technologies that allows for some of this to happen.
“But we are happy to say for the last eight months, the NCC took very proactive measures, through investigations, we worked with our taskforce to have been able to reduce the incidence of sim boxing in this country by 34%.
“When you look at the roadmap so far, 2016, it started, in 2017, we started investigations. We moved from reducing it to 24% to 34%. I think the most critical point is; we have tried to look for a technological solution to solve what is a slight technical problem.”
As I speak. now we have found a solution after the prove of concept. That solution has been tried in Lagos South West and about nine people have been arrested in the basement of a house and a few cars in which you have the boxes in their booths. We have tried that concept, it is working and we hope to launch it in January. If it is launched in January; I can assure Nigerians that before the end of 2019, we would have had 80% reduction in call masking,” he explained.
The EVC then called on the public not to hesitate to report cases of call masking to NCC, promising that appropriate measures would be taken against such persons.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Director Consumer Affairs Bureau,
Mrs Felicia Onwuegbuchulam,
stated that the forum allows for face to face encounter with the public and Stakeholders in the telecom industry and the theme is aimed at ensuring national security and a level playing ground for all telecom licensees.
Meanwhile, the Commission has revealed that Nigeria exceeded the 30% broadband target and has recorded 30.9% penetration target so far.
This was made known on Thursday in Abuja at a media parley with the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta in Abuja
Recall that federal government in 2012 set a 30% broadband penetration target from 2013-2018. The figure had been hovering between 20-21% from 2017-2018.
Speaking through the Executive Commissioner Stakeholders management Sunday Dare, the EVC said it has exceeded the target set by National Broadband plan to achieve 30% Broadband from 2013-2018.
The NCC boss also said it had recorded internet subscriber base of 109 million adding that broadband service subscribers is now at 59 million people.
Danbatta assured Nigerians and other users in the telecom industry that henceforth the NCC reports on broadband penetration would be on a monthly basis from 2019 and that all information and progress on mobile, internet and data usage penetration would be sustained to provide the necessary requirements for increased investments and effective regulation of the telecom sector in Nigeria.
The NCC boss said based on the first to third quarter reports, the ICT contributions to Growth Domestic Products had reached N5trillion.
According to him, active voice subscriber base grew from 165,239,443 in October 2018 to 169,104,830 in November 2018 adding that Internet Subscription grew from 107,547,723 in October, 2018 to 108,897,679 in November 2018 and that Total Active Broadband Subscription on 3G and 4G platforms as at November 2018 is 58,965,478.
He said contributions of telecommunications and information services to GDP from Q1 – Q3 2018 was N4.7 trillion according to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics. In the last quarter (Q3, 2018), the amount stood at N1.5 trillion according to Q3 figures reported by the NBS and that telecommunications and information Services Sector grew by 14.7% from Q1, 2017 – Q3, 2018.