A newly implemented International Gateway Management System (IGMS) should give Liberian authorities the tools they need to monitor and enforce compliance with telecom regulations, paving the way for further development of the sector, according to industry players.
The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) commissioned the IGMS from Global Voice Group (GVG), a telecom governance technology provider. According to GVG Director of Corporate Communications Michel Cauchy, the IGMS will be used to monitor the new regulated tariff on international calls, quality of service improvements, and measures against fraudulent gray traffic.
The IGMS will also monitor "fraudulent gray traffic," international traffic that is terminated as local traffic, by-passing international gateways and avoiding regulated tariffs.
"The IGMS accurately measures traffic volumes, detects fraudulent gray traffic and collects signaling data in real-time in order to monitor the services provided by all operators to the Liberian subscribers," Cauchy said. "It does all of the above in a passive mode, i.e. without affecting GSM networks performance in any way. Moreover, the IGMS does not provide the technical capacity to do telephone tapping. Confidentiality and security of communications are fully preserved."
Highlighting some of the benefits of the state-of-the-art system, Cauchy said it will ensure transparency and accountability as LTA will gain full and real-time visibility over the telecom market in the country, and obtain data for proper accounting for revenue and management of all international gateways in compliance with Liberian regulations.
"It secures a new revenue stream of about $5 million to $7 million per year for the government of Liberia," Cauchy said. "It gives the LTA a powerful tool to assist the operators in their on-going fight against gray traffic, thus protecting the latters' revenue," he noted.
Other benefits include consumer protection, as the LTA can now monitor telecom activities and intervene in critical areas of concern for the consumers, including quality of service.
"Regarding what we should expect in a few years, the market will continue to evolve towards next generation networks," Cauchy said. "With smartphones, fiber optic cable, 3G and LTE networks, greater access to data and mobile Internet, market shares of the OTTs (Internet Content Providers such as Skype, Google, etc.) are expected to increase and to adversely impact on traditional voice traffic and local operators' revenue in Liberia."
The IGMS is not directly linked to Liberia's connection to the newly operational Africa Coast to Europe fiber optic cable but is an outcome of a long thinking process inside the LTA which has "been seeking ICT solutions to dramatically improve its technological capacities with respect to revenue auditing, traffic measurement, fraud management, and quality of service monitoring," Cauchy added.
The IGMS has been or is currently being implemented in seven other African countries -- Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, Congo-Brazzaville, Republic of Guinea, Togo, and Central African Republic.