International Gateway Monitoring System

Department Summary

The LTA’s International Gateway Monitoring System (IGMS) contributed significantly to the growth and development of the telecommunications sector in 2013. The IGMS contributed close to US$4.5 million of revenue distributed from International Inbound Calls to the Government of Liberia and the LTA for their respective operations. The system has demonstrated that it is capable of increasing LTA’s revenue generation capacity. The IGMS also has the capability of combating fraudsters and monitoring the qaulity of service across all networks. The IGMS derives its monitoring mandate from the Telecommunications Act of 2007 and is also supported by the LTA’s 2011 International Traffic Regulation (LTA-REG-0005), which provides traffic monitoring mechanisms and punitive measures for violators. Commencing in March 2013, Engineers, Billing Agents, Supervisors and Network Operating Center Agents were recruited and intensively trained to manage the secured web applications that run the system’s operations and on June 4th the 24/7 international traffic monitoring operation began with twelve NOC Agents and Supervisors divided into four groups rotating in three shifts. In October 2013, the IGMS was separated from the SDMS Department and a new Department was formed with a designated Commissioner at its helm, with added responsibilities for regulatory oversight of the forthcoming Internet Exchange Point (IXP) and management of the country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD). In conformity with the International Traffic Regulation, all service providers have IGM equipment connected to their Signal Transfer Points (STP’s), to facilitate the assessment of the quality of service in real time. Inbound international traffic call detail records (CDR) are generated through an automated system that facilitates cold and real time call data collection. Records are generated on an hourly basis by service providers and analyzed by NOC Agents and Supervisors, forming the basis for revenue assurance.

 Revenue Assessment

In 2013, the IGMS assessed aggregate revenue of US$10,510,781.90. During the preiod under review, 75,077,013.59 aggregate minutes were logged from the four functioning service providers. Lonestar Communications Corporation registered 86% of all international inbound calls to Liberia with 64,488,585.79 minutes. Cellcom Telecommunications, Inc. had 12% of the market share with 8,984,018.06 aggregate minutes and Novafone, Inc. captured 2% of the market share with 1,579,211,54.

Revenue Collection

IGM fees are collected in arrears with a 25 day grace period; therefore, for a given period, revenue assessed for a given month – which refers Commencing in March 2013, Engineers, Billing Agents, Supervisors and Network Operating Center Agents were recruited and intensively trained to manage the secured web applications that run the system’s operations  to the aggregate monetary value of CDR minutes will not be collected until the following month. Therefore revenue assessed will not necessarily be the same as revenue collected. For the period under review, the IGMS’ Department collected total revenue of US$11,784,894.98 from the four functioning service providers. The total collection is composed of US$2,992,623.12 outstanding revenue assessed in 2012, but was not collected and US$8,792,262.86 as actual collection made from the 2013 assessment. It is worth noting that Lonestar Communications Corporation is the only entity whose monthly payments are not in line with the LTA’s issued invoices of their declarations. Lone star’s payments have been based on the CDR declarations made by its international carrier; Begacom International Carrier Service (BICS) instead of the LTA issued invoices. As a result, there was a revenue variance of US$48.150.66 for the period under review. The LTA is taking action to resolve this issue.

Revenue Sharing

The IGMS contributed close to US$4.5 million of revenue distributed from International Inbound Calls to the Government of Liberia and the LTA for the period under review. The IGMS was largely pre-financed by Global Voice Group S. A (GVG) and is operated on a revenue sharing concept supported by monthly payments of regulatory charges imposed by the LTA on service providers for international inbound calls. The Government of Liberia receives 40% (Ministry of Finance, 30% and LTA 10%) and GVG receives 60% (GVG, 40% and Conex, 20%) Conex is GVG’s local logistical support partner. LTA’s 10% shred is applied against the cost of operating the program. LTA started receiving this 10% in February, 2013. With a signed MOU between the stakeholders and the UBA, revenue collected in a current month is distributed amongst the stakeholders in the first week of the subsequent month. Therefore, this creates carried forward and brought forward issues. Meanwhile, the collection of US$779, 02940 made in December 2013 was not distributed. Additionally, a check of US$898.08 received from Libtelco was not deposited hence did not form part of the distribution as well. During the period January 1, 2013 to December 2013, the total of US $11,228,033.50 was distributed to the stakeholders of the IGMS Project. This amount is comprised of US$11,004,967.50 as collection made in 2013 and a brought forward of US$223,066 from 2012 collection that was not distributed.

Anti Fraud Management

This aspect of the IMGS is focused on ensuring fair market practices in the termination of international inbound calls by service providers. The purpose of the Anti-Fraud Management is to identify and terminate unregistered communications service providers’ inbound international calls and to deter service providers who fail to fully disclose Signal Transferring Points (STP). Also, it is to identify and block grey routed numbers terminating international calls as local calls in the country, Liberia The department uses intelligence gathering, whistle blowers and the SIM Box Locator Equipment to combat fraudsters in collaboration with the Liberia Security Apparatus. A major accomplishment in 2013 was the establishment of the joint Anti-Fraud Management Committee to combat fraudsters within the telecommunication sector. This body is composed of service providers and LTA representatives who meet regularly to review and formulate anti-fraud management strategies. The adopted operational strategies include the regular administration of inbound international calls termination on random telecommunications service providers. Fraudulent test results identify grey routed numbers which are used to locate SIM Box Equipment used to facilitate grey routing. Test results are sometimes sent to the relevant telecommunication service provider for blocking. The procurement of the Septier Guardian by the Liberia Telecommunications Authority through the Global Voice Group was a tremendous boost to the anti-fraud management efforts. This specialized equipment is used to locate SIM Box equipment that facilitates the termination of grey routed calls. During 2013 three arrests were made related to illegal terminating calls in Liberia, two of those cases have been sent to court for trial. In 2013 a total of 512,614 test calls were made to telecommunications service providers. Records indicate there were 32,435 fraudulent calls detected within this test period and 10,273 numbers were identified as fraudulent numbers routed through unidentified Signal Identification Module (SIM) Box. Out of 10,273 fraudulent calls reported, CELLCOM conducted the most effective internal control with 198 calls or 4%, NOVAFONE accounted for 4,663 or 82% and Lone Star as the second highest accounted for 817 numbers or 14%. GVG also facilitated a ten day advanced training in Ghana for IGM Technical Engineers and the Anti-Fraud Coordinator. This training provided basic information on the equipment used in Gateway Monitoring Systems and its related configuration as well as maintenance of those systems. As required by the IGM Contract, the training is part of the road map toward building LTA’s capacity to manage the IGMS when GVG’s contract ends.