Vodafone Ghana boss against international calls monitoring

Telecoms

The Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Ghana, Kyle Whitehill has kicked against the installation of international call monitoring systems on the premises of telecom operators to verify the volume of international traffic for revenue.

He told journalists “we do not think the monitoring equipment are absolutely necessary because we have very transparent ways of accounting for all inbound international traffic on our network and we continue to pay government the required 6 cents per minute of international calls received on our network.”

Vodafone in particular has been cited by the Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddrisu for resisting the installation of international call monitoring equipment on their premises, but Mr. Whitehill said Vodafone is not resisting anything but only offering alternatives.

“You can see how much international traffic comes onto our network on day to day basis – we do not think you have to install specific probing systems to do that,” he said.

Meanwhile, government has hired a Haitian company called Global Voice Group (GVG), and they have installed monitoring equipment on the premises of some telecom operators to verify inbound international calls.

Some operators have criticized the move as interference into the privacy of their customers and also a threat to network quality, as calls going through the monitoring system stand the risk of being distorted due to “too much equipment”.

Vodafone was also the first to go public in expressing their nervousness about the GVG, which was relieved of their duties in some African countries after those countries decided they did not need a third party to monitor international calls for revenue.

But the Ministry of Communications insists that since the coming of GVG, and the installation of monitoring equipment, government had gone from a loss of $5.8 million dollars a month in taxes to over $14 million dollars gain in taxes on inbound international calls.

Some telecom experts had suggested that government’s gains have nothing to do with GVG’s work, but purely on the basis of fixing the cost of international call at 19 cents  per minute and using the various call reports of the various operators to determine the quantum of taxes thereof.

One other issue closely related to the call monitoring is the SIM boxing activity, where some fraudsters route inbound international calls through local mobile phone numbers and make them appear as if they were local calls and by that they (the fraudsters) siphon moneys belonging to telecom operators and government.

Reports from international research on SIM boxing activity indicated that telecom operators lost $150 million to sim box fraudsters last year.

As at October last year, Vodafone Ghana was on NCA’s records as the network with the highest sim boxing activity, but

Mr. Whitehill assured the Ministry of Communication that Vodafone has what it takes to lead the fighting against the sim box fraud.

Chief Marketing Officer of Vodafone Ghana, Uche Ofodile noted that between October and now, Vodafone has identified and blocked 90 per cent of the fraudulent sim cards on its network used for sim boxing activities.

“As a result Vodafone is now the network with the least SIM boxing activity in Ghana,” she said.

Meanwhile Vodafone and the police CID recently busted SIM box operations in Teshie with fraudulent equipment worth $200,000 involved.

Mr. Whitehill expressed the hope that the police would prosecute the perpetrators, saying “we support the police in taking on these criminals and prosecuting them in order to bring some sanity into the telecom industry.”