NCA ordered to stop Vodafone Ghana from killing ISPs
The Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddrisu says Vodafone Ghana is engaged in practices that are killing internet service providers (ISPs) and the National Communications Authority must bite harder at Vodafone and stop them.
Speaking on Metro TV good Morning Ghana, the minister said Vodafone is playing both wholesaler and retailer by selling bandwidth to ISPs whiles Vodafone runs internet cafés itself, which is more efficient than those of the ISPs and thus subtly harming the business of the ISPs.
He said the ISPs have written several complaints and petitions to him and he thinks their complaints are fair so he has asked the NCA to take the matter up and bring Vodafone to book.
Mr. Iddrisu noted that Vodafone has also shown a lot of arrogance to government in the area of international call verification, saying that till date Vodafone has been preventing government from installing verification equipment on its premises.
He said Vodafone has gone to seek a court action to place an injunction on government from proceeding with the international call verification exercise.
But Mr. Iddrisu sounded a warning to Vodafone that no court action can prevent government from going ahead with the verification exercise.
He said there is overwhelming evidence that some telecom operators, including Vodafone are engaging in call by-pass, where international calls terminate as local calls in this country.
The minister said the practice is a fraud that allows the telecom operators to charge more or less than that fixed 19 cents per minute of inbound international calls, adding that the practices denies government of tax revenues on inbound international calls.
Mr. Iddrisu said even though he had assured all telecom operators that government will not install equipment that interfere with the privacy of their customers, Vodafone in particular insists that they have a witness to testify in court that the verification systems interferes with subscribers privacy.
Prior to the implementation of international call verification, the minister announced that government lost about six million dollars in taxes on inbound international calls to fraudulent practices by telecom operators.
The implementation of the system was met with fierce resistance by the telecom operators and some pressure groups in the country, but since it started in June this year, government has reported of raking in some $14 million in three months, which is a clear indication there was fraud.
The minister used the occasion of the rebranding of Zain to airtel and Kasapa to expresso to state strongly that government will not back-off on the international and domestic call monitoring to stem fraud and generate revenue for the state.
He therefore called on all telecom operators to cooperate with government in that direction.
The minister also announced that government and the regulator has fulfilled all its obligations towards Globacom so the ball is in their court to start operations in their own time.
Meanwhile, Vodafone Ghana Corporate Communications Director, Carmen Bruce-Annan said they, along with other mobile operators are defendants in the court case, which was brought by individuals who have concerns on international call verification.
On the questions of Vodafone playing wholesaler and retailer on the broadband market, she said “we continue to support enterprise and we are investing heavily in infrastructure that powers the best retail and customer experience for both ISPs and Vodafone Ghana.
“We are of course, willing as always to co-operate fully with the government and the NCA to deliver this.”
By Samuel Dowuona
I’m normally not a fan of Ghana Telecom (Vodafone) but in the case of international traffic it is good that they are standing up to the government. NCA should deregulate the international call market and allow voip. They are protecting they self interest and the average Ghanaian is paying through the nose.
This international traffic that vodafone is so defensive against is not because of the peoples rights as they so claim but rather them paying less for international incoming calls!
When a customer is making international calls, they pay the amount they are suppose to pay, but on an incoming international call, vodafone routes the call to appear as a local, thus paying less to the government than they are actually suppose to pay!
As for ripping off people, vodafone has been doing that since the beginning! the day another competition steps in, vodafone will loose more than half its client, and that’s a fact.