Telecoms companies welcome NCA’s international call audit

Telecoms operators in the country have welcomed the move by the National Communication Authority (NCA) to audit all call data records (CDR) to ensure that what each company reports monthly is exactly how many minutes of international call came through their respective networks.

Director of Regulatory Administration of the NCA, Joshua Peprah recently announced that the NCA would start the audit within the next three months, and any telecoms provider found ‘lying’ about how many minutes of international call came to Ghana through their network could lose their license.

The NCA had years ago tried to install international gateway monitoring equipment on the switches of the companies to monitor the international traffic in real time, but an Accra Fast Track High Court ruled in favour of some persons who took the NCA and the companies to court and proved that those equipment could comprise customer privacy and interfere with quality of service.

Mr. Preprah told Adom News that the equipment had been configured to only take call data from the switches and never to input any information into the systems of the companies, so the concerns about interference were only a perception and not a reality.

But since that had been stopped by the courts, he said the NCA had been working with a consultant on how to verify the records and secure revenue for the state, adding that part of that process would be the audit of call records.

Each of the four main GSM operators have said they welcome the audit because the NCA already does some form of audit of their records and systems to verify that they did not lie about the amount of incoming international calls.

Revenue Assurance and Risk Manager at Vodafone said the company had been doing several checks at various levels before submitting its call data records to the NCA so it was sure of its accuracy and was therefore not perturbed by the audit.

Written responses to Adom News, in the name of the Corporate Service Executive of MTN Ghana, Cynthia Lumor, said auditing of CDR was not a problem to MTN, adding that the NCA had already been sending officials to MTN to verify the data it sent, and that for MTN was a form of audit.

Similar responses from Airtel in the name of Head of Corporate Affairs, Donald Gwira said “Airtel Ghana has no problem with the proposed audit,” adding that the NCA had been verifying Airtel’s CDRs since June 2010.

Donald Gwira said NCA only issued invoices to Airtel for the Gateway Monitoring Fee based on the verification of the CDRs, adding that Airtel continued to follow all rules and regulations that governed its operations and was therefore confident it would not be found wanting in the event of any such audit.

An official of Tigo Ghana also expressed similar sentiments, saying that Tigo had always presented accurate records to the NCA, including its financial statements.

“We have greater amount of domestic traffic that we are managing so we are not going to waste our time trying to be dodgy with records of incoming international traffic – lots of the international traffic meant for Tigo are brought in by other companies anyway so why should we damage our integrity on something relatively small,” the official said.

Indeed, all the companies can confirm that they bring in international traffic on behalf of each other and share the revenues based on the interconnect arrangements.

On the issue of why telecoms companies have refused to allow the NCA to install its real time verification systems on their switches, MTN said there were concerns about those equipment interfering with customer privacy and with quality of service, for which customers could sue MTN, and the NCA could also fine MTN.

Airtel referred to the court ruling (Amankwa Appiah and two others versus NCA, A-G and five others), saying that the ruling made it impossible for Airtel to allow the NCA to install those equipment because it had legal implications for both Airtel and the NCA.

Vodafone’s Radcliffe said the company had invested millions of dollars in equipment to check fraud on its network, and it did not think it needed extra external equipment, which also threaten the privacy of its customers and to interfere with its quality of service.

Meanwhile some telecoms companies have raised doubts about whether indeed those equipment had the capacity to prevent SIM Box fraud, or were just meant for securing revenue for the state.

By Samuel Dowuona

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