The ICT sector may be complicated but people always find a way of coming up with illegal schemes. Illegal communications systems are now used in different parts of the country. Kenyans are now stepping up in providing illegal communication services. On 30th November 2015, the Communications Authority of Kenya discovered an illegal communications operation at the 680 Hotel . Yesterday, the Landlord of a property in Lavington along Amboseli Drive, sought to know the business in which his tenants were involved in but the tenants resisted leading to a commotion.
Subsequently, the tenant alerted the police who visited the scene and found communications equipment that they suspected were being used for illegal communication services and invited the Authority to ascertain the kind of activities that were going on. On arrival, the officers from the Authority established that indeed the activities involved illegal international call termination using SIMBOX devices, which is in breach of the ICT sector law. A month ago, the authority also raided a group of people using a SIMBOX to terminate international telephone traffic.
The Police jointly with the officers of the Authority recovered four SIMBOX equipment with a combined capacity to hold 144 SIM cards that can simultaneously make calls. Also recovered, were a total of 5,827 SIM cards from the local mobile service providers. In particular, the officers found 3,017 SIM cards from Orange, 2,678 SIM cards from Airtel, 52 branded Yu SIM cards and 80 SIM cards from Safaricom. The police arrested one suspect for further questioning.
The Director General of Communications Authority of Kenya calls for support from Kenyans to eliminate illegal international telephone traffic termination equipment in Kenya. Section 24 of the Kenya Information and Communications Act, 1998, as amended, provides that anyone operating an illegal communications system commits an offence and is liable to a fine of One Million shillings or to imprisonment for a term of five years or both.
Mr. Francis Wangusi provided that SIM-Boxing involves termination of international traffic using illegal routes. 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.
Mitigation of Illegal communication services
- Ensure that each network operator procures a SIMBOX detection tool capable of identifying SIM boxing activities and obligate them to disconnect any SIM cards associated with such activities and to report the same to the regulator for further enforcement purposes.
- Require operators to continue exchanging information relating to such activities in order to avoid a situation where such illegal operators hop from one operator to another
- Ensure that the existing VoIP guidelines for interconnection arrangements between duly licensed operators and legal VoIP providers are adhered to.
- 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-vis local call termination charges (MTRs) which has fueled the fraudulent activities.