, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 7- The Communications Authority of Kenya says it has recovered communications equipment that was being used for illegal international call services in the country, at a house in Lavington, Nairobi.
The authority says this is under a countrywide exercise to fight the continued rise in the illegal international voice connections which are robbing the country millions in revenue.
CA officials together with the police officers, managed to recover a total of 5,827 SIM cards from local mobile service providers being used by unscrupulous people for illegal international telephone traffic termination.
The officers found 3,017 SIM cards from Orange, 2,678 from Airtel, 52 branded Yu cards and 80 from Safaricom.
Briefing the media Thursday, CA Chairman Ngene Gituku says at least one suspect was arrested and is helping in investigations where they get the SIM cards and the businesses they are involved in.
“The perpetrators use what is known as SIMBOX, a device that holds stacks of SIM cards on one side and is connected to the Internet on the other side. Instead of international calls coming in through the traditional international gateways, these operators receive the calls through the Internet and then using the SIMBOX, re-originate the calls through the stacks of SIM cards as if the calls are being originated by local customers,” Gituku explained.
The police jointly with the officers of the authority also recovered four SIMBOX equipment with a combined capacity to hold 144 SIM cards that can simultaneously make calls.
SIM Boxing activities involve SIM cards being used for business and therefore each individual SIM card makes several calls on a continuous basis from the same base station.
SIM cards are normally fixed in one location and therefore do not change locations as the normal subscriber SIM cards.
“Because of being fixed in one location and the many calls it generates in one base station, this causes degraded quality of services in the areas served by the concerned base station,” Gituku explained.
The authority says it has already written to all mobile service providers to help in finding out how the suspects manage to get the SIM cards which and establish if they were either registered or not.
“We will also use this to know if they the SIM cards were not registered why the various mobile service providers did not do so,” CA Director General Francis Wangusi said.
CA also wants each network operator to procure a SIMBOX detection tool capable of identifying SIM boxing activities and obligate them to disconnect any SIM cards associated with such activities.
“The Authority will also continue to encourage operators to reduce the disparity between international termination rates as compared to local terminations rates with a view to reducing the arbitrage opportunities between termination charges for international calls vis-a-viz local call termination charges (MTRs) which has fuelled the fraudulent activities,” Wangusi added.