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The National Communications Commission on Tuesday sanctioned/suspended some telecommunications operators in the country over their involvement in call masking and refilling, even as more than 750,000 numbers previously assigned to different Private Network Links (PNL) and Local Exchange Operators (LEO) were bared.

The NCC had earlier warned that Medallion Communications, Niconnx Communications Limited, Interconnect Clearing House, Solid Interconnectivity, Exchange Telecommunications Limited and Breeze Micro Limited may lose their licenses due to their involvement in the digital fraud.

What is call masking? 

Call masking involves the manipulation of incoming calls into a country, whereby said calls are concealed and presented as local calls in order to avoid charges.

The NCC’s Director of Public Relations, Mr Tony Ojobo disclosed via a statement in Abuja that the regulatory agency had begun a new investigation into digital mobile operators’  involvement in call masking activities.

The NCC has recently been inundated with complaints from service providers and consumers regarding the high incidence of call masking , call refiling and SIM boxing . Generally , the practice complained of involves disguising international calls as local calls in order to profit from price differentials between international and local calls .
Apart from the resultant loss of revenue by service providers , the practice also has some negative security implications . Following a painstaking investigation process , which included collaboration with the Office of the National Security Adviser and the Department of State Services , the commission has imposed a range of sanctions on licensees involved in the fraudulent practice. -Tony Ojobo

The sanctioned entities 

One of the sanctions given by the NCC include a 90-day license suspension issued to Medallion Communications Limited. A strongly-worded warning letter was also issued to Interconnect Clearing House Nigeria Limited.

Meanwhile, Information Connectivity Solutions Limited and Solid Interconnectivity Services Limited were both disconnected from all networks pending the regularisation of their operations.

In the same vein,  Noconnx Limited, Breeze Micro Limited Andrew Exchange Telecommunications Limited were issued warning letters and cautioned against any form of fraudulent practices.

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Other companies such as Vezeti Communications Services Limited, Peace Global Satellite Communications Limited, Voix Networks Limited and Mobitel Limited all had over 750,000 individual numbers of theirs bared.

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Note that these companies’ mobile numbers are thirty-one digits instead of the typical eleven digits. These large number ranges, therefore, make it easier for call masking and refilling to take place.

Why is this a good development?

The National Communications Commission believes that call masking and refilling constitutes a security risk for the country seeing as most Nigerians are often threatened, blackmailed and extorted through phone calls that cannot be traced to anybody.

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