Provide evidence of call masking, ATCON tells NCC

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The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria has asked the Nigerian Communications Commission to provide evidence to show that interconnect houses are involved in call masking.

The association, which represents some of the affected interconnect houses, argued that only five per cent of all calls were routed through the interconnect houses, while the remaining 95 per cent passed through network operators.

“They have not shared the evidence with the licensees that they are hoping to suspend and that the problem they are alluding to emanated from them,” the President of ATCON, Mr. Olusola Teniola, said when contacted by our correspondent.

Call masking or refilling is a practice in which callers hide their true numbers when making calls, especially international calls, in order to evade the international call rates. The telecom regulator said the act posed a threat to national security.

According to Teniola, calls originate from mobile and fixed network providers and terminate with them.

He added, “The issue that has been raised by the NCC about call masking and refilling and their subsequent notice to our members that they are going to suspend their licences is rather unfortunate because it would appear that the commission has not come up with any substantiated evidence to suggest that this practice is being performed by our members.

“It is important to note that only five per cent of voice and the SMS traffic goes through the interconnect houses. What is happening to the 95 per cent of calls? Are we saying there is no call refilling or masking originating from the networks? These are some of the things that need to be shown to the licensees as evidence.”

Teniola stated that even where evidences existed, the proper thing the commission was expected to do was to give a directive as to how such calls should be treated by the licensees.

In certain instances, he said call masking was legal as some companies used it to show that the calls emanated from one of their departments.

The ATCON president said, “In certain call scenarios, call masking or call resealing is a tangible solution to certain types of calls. There is no court of law that says it cannot be done.

“For instance, if you are making a call from a company and that company wants to demonstrate that that call was coming from its cell department, then the number of the company will not appear but the department name. In telecommunications law, there is nothing that says it is illegal.”

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