NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 30 – The Communications Authority of Kenya has stated that it is taking swift enforcement action against international telephone traffic termination in Nairobi.
According to CA, there are individuals carrying out the act using equipment called SIMbox to make and receive international calls at fairly cheap prices by bypassing the traditional international voice communication systems.
Director of Licensing Compliance and Standards at the Authority Christopher Kemei explained that culprits are cashing on the termination price margins between the termination charges for international calls and those for local termination by re-routing them via the internet.
“It is to be recalled that the advancement and rapid adoption if new technologies particularly the Internet Protocol technology has heralded the emergence of alternative communication systems such as Voice over the internet Protocol (VoIP) which, though not always of good quality, presents an arbitrage opportunity for people to make and receive international calls fairly cheaply by bypassing the traditional international voice communication systems,” Kemei said.
“This kind of communication, often referred to as grey traffic termination, is facilitated through the SIMbox,” he added.
He stated that such illegal activities were making legitimate operators lose out on income opportunities on international incoming calls.
The announcement by CA follows a raid on an enterprise that was conducting the business in Nairobi’s Central business district where they dismantled the illegal equipment and arrested the culprits.
How the SIMbox works
According to CA, the SIMbox is normally loaded with SIM cards on one side and connected to the internet on the other side hence creating an illegal interface between the two networks.
This interface is not only technically inappropriate but more importantly in contravention of the interconnection Regulations and often done without the knowledge of either the mobile network operators or the internet service provider.
This is the reason why CA found hundreds of thousands of SIM cards during the raid which according to the Authority, had an alarmingly high number from an unmentioned network.
“At this stage, we cannot release more information on which network these SIM cards were from. Neither can we fault the networks whose SIM cards we recovered,” Kemei explained.
CA has therefore taken steps to mitigate the emergence and proliferation of the grey traffic phenomenon which include requiring operators to exchange information related to such activities and developed VoIP guidelines that provide for explicit interconnection arrangements between duly licensed operators to facilitate legal VoIP traffic exchange/termination among others.
Telkom Kenya has said that on its part, it has employed a variety of options to detect this practice – in real time and thereafter close on the same.
“We also cooperate with other operators, both locally and internationally, as well as local Government agencies, to further eliminate this type of bypass fraud,” a statement by Telkom Kenya states.