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Business News of Sunday, 31 July 2016

Source: citifmonline.com

Telecom operators ‘punch holes’ into ICH regulations

Telecom operators say they are averse to some provisions of the newly passed Electronic Communication Regulations.

The regulations are to guide the implementation of the Interconnect Clearing House for all telecom operators in the country.

Sources in the telecom industry familiar with the matter fear for the future of the industry if the concerns bordering on cost and ability to combat money laundering are not resolved.

As a result, they are imploring on the regulator, the NCA and other stakeholders to reconsider the numerous concerns raised in order to avert the unfortunate collapse of Ghana’s telecom industry.

The interconnect clearing house is a single platform where all intra and inter voice calls among telecom operators would be controlled from.

Unlike the current system where a challenge with a single telecom operator does not necessarily affect another’s operations, the industry watchers fear the common platform will mean that a slight interruption will result in a complete shutdown of the operations of all other networks.

The policy, expected to be rolled out in September this year will also attract extra charges for telecom operators which will be subsequently passed unto consumers.

But the industry regulator, the NCA, has assured that it will cushion consumers of any extra charge until the end of December 2017.

However, the players of industry are questioning the basis for such a decision and the billing system to be introduced which they argue, would overburden the financial obligations of the telecom operators.

Although the regulations provides for anti-fraud management systems, the industry players maintain that issues of SIM box fraud which is anticipated to reduce government’s revenue from international calls from about 64 million dollars in 2010 to as little as about 19 million dollars by 2019, may not be adequately addressed with the ICH as it cannot control the smuggling of airtime or SIM box fraud.

Meanwhile Citi Business News is learning that the telecom operators will conform to the September 2016 roll out date while they continue with negotiations to get their issues addressed.