Regulator mulls adjustment in ITR, LTR to tackle call masking menace
As part of measures targeted at curbing the influence of call masking, SIM boxing menaces in the telecoms sector, the regulator-Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has not ruled out major adjustment to both International Termination Rate (ITR) and mobile Local Termination Rate (ITR).
This is even as the NCC had given approval to five companies to present the evidence of the design of their software and equipment that could detect and prevent interconnect traffic bypass and SIM boxing activities through a ‘Proof of Concept’ approach, which is about to be completed.
A masked call happens when an international calling number (Caller Line Identity) is masked as local number traffic.
It is a deliberate attempt by the fraudster to avoid paying the correct International Termination Rate (ITR) for international calls, but to benefit by paying Local Termination Rate (LTR).
For example, when the number is masked as a local call, the operator pays N3.90 LTR and not N24.40 ITR.
The process allows operators to terminate inbound international telecoms traffic as local calls so they don’t have to pay ITR, which is the interconnection charges set by telecoms traffic carriers as carrier to carrier charges.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, noted that the commission has since discovered that people are involved in call masking because of the differential in the cost of ITR and LTR.
“So, because local termination rate is cheaper, they tend to hide the numbers and detail of international calls that are terminating in Nigeria and make it looks as if such international number is a local number in order to pay local termination rate as against international termination rate that is higher.
“SIM boxing usage is very attractive and fuels call masking.
However, we have note ruled out anything to curb these challenges, especially the review of both rates.
The disparity between these two rates is around N20 in Nigeria.
So, if you terminate an international call as a local call, you make a gain of about N20, so if you terminate million calls, that is when you know how much these culprits are making and subsequently robbing the government of revenue that should accrue to it.
“We are tackling this issue in two ways. First, we are doing a review of the ITR, in order to make it less attractive to block SIM boxing operation in Nigeria.
Secondly, before we conclude the review of these rates, we want to ensure that capacity is built through technology solution that would enable us to track adequately where the SIM box operatos can be apprehended.”