Technology | Technology

NCA debunks Vodafone’s claim ICH policy will cost telcos more

Contrary to claims by Vodafone Ghana that telcos would spend money on systems upgrade or downgrade to be able to connect to the interconnect clearinghouse (ICH), an official of the National Communications Authority has stated otherwise.

Vodafone's claim was in response to assertions by Telecoms Consultant  Osman Issah that telcos would save rather than lose money when they connect to the ICH.

In a message to Adom News Editor, a Vodafone official, who said his comments were the official position of the company, rebutted Issah's claims, saying "if a telco's systems are more advanced than the ICH that telco would have to downgrade and if the ICH is more advanced then the telco would have to upgrade. All that come with cost."

Prior to that, Vodafone had said in its responses to NCA on the ICH license that the ICH will render telcos' investments into the existing interconnect systems waste, lead to job cuts and increased tariffs to customers.

However, an official of the industry regulator said that is not true, explaining that "the ICH shall be responsible to interconnect on all protocols that every service provider chooses. So if a service provider is higher it is on the ICH to upgrade – if the service provider is lower, it is for the ICH to downgrade."

He said the ICH will ensure interoperability of all systems, technologies, services and protocols, adding "that's the essence of it being the enabler to convergence at least cost on interoperability."

The NCA official noted that contrary to the erroneous impression that telcos would be compelled to bow to the dictates of the ICH, the policy would rather take orders from service providers to deliver on their requirements.

"The ICH doesn't serve buffet," he said, adding "they don't tell their clients to upgrade or downgrade – they rather adjust to suit their clients."

The NCA had earlier said that government is paying for the setting up and operations of the the ICH with part of the moneys it makes from inbound international traffic, so telcos and their customers do not have to worry about cost.

Meanwhile, Telecom Consultant Osman Issah insists that telcos will save money on infrastructure maintenance once they connect to the ICH and thereby be able to give customers affordable rates.

He said the ICH will also stop capital flight with respect to clearinghouse operations because telcos will now be able to clear traffic locally for less instead of the using expensive clearinghouses abroad.

"Again, newly licensed international wholesale carriers (IWCs) and VAS players will also connect to the  ICH and have access to all telcos instead of each of them having to go to each telco for connectivity," Issah argued.

Meanwhile Member of Parliament (MP) for Obuasi West, Kwaku Kwarteng, together with Mr Elijah Adansi-Bonah, Research Director of Development Data (a policy research organisation), have sued the National Communications Authority (NCA) over the Interconnect Clearing House project being initiated by government.