Subah, Afriwave two others vying for telecom clearinghouse license


Information reaching Adom Business indicate four companies, including Ghana’s Subah Infosolutions, and Afriwave Telecom Ghana Limited have been shortlisted to bid for the coming telecoms interconnect clearinghouse license later this year.

The other two are Haitian company GVG (Global Voice Group) and South African IT Company, Gigima, and member of the multi-million dollar Guma Group in that country.

One of the candidates shortlisted to bid for the single clearinghouse license told Adom Business “at this stage we are all preparing our tender documents for submission later.”

“The four of us were initially shortlisted to bid for a contract to monitor international gateway and to check SIM boxing but now we have been asked to prepare documents and bid for the Interconnect Clearinghouse License, since the work of the Clearinghouse will involve international gateway monitoring,” that shortlisted candidate  said.

The Minister of Communications recently announced the four categories of licenses soon to be issued in the telecom industry. One of them is the interconnect clearinghouse license and the three others are MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) licenses, International Wholesale Traffic (IWT) licenses and Unified licenses.

There is only one Interconnect Clearinghouse license up for the grabs, while there three MVNO licenses, three IWT licenses and the Unified one would be for all the existing telcos who do not have fixed line service to also have one. So far, Vodafone and Airtel already have fixed line services.

The Clearinghouse license is going for an estimated US$20million. The MVNO licenses are estimated at US$1.2million each and the IWT is also about US$1.7million by estimation.

The clearinghouse would be the one-stop-shop for clearing/verifying all voice, data and SMS traffic across networks within Ghana, and from overseas to Ghana.

The clearinghouse will be the point of interconnect between all the telcos, between telcos and value added service (VAS) providers/app developers, between telcos and international wholesale traffic carriers, and between all those players and government/regulator.

In effect, no communication within the telecom space would be successful until it goes through the clearinghouse; and that include the real time verification of incoming international calls, which was in the past stopped by a court order when the regulator, National Communication Authority (NCA) gave GVG a contract to do that job.

When the clearinghouse comes, the problem of people receiving unwanted messages and services from short codes on their phone will stop because the clearinghouse will prevent such messages from going to people who have not subscribed for them.

So what is the capacity of the four companies in the run shortlisted for the license and how ready are they to take up the job if any of them won the license?

 
Subah

Subah is not stranger in the telecom industry because of the recent event where it was contracted by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to physically audit telcos, and was paid over GHS74million between 2010 and 2012 without doing any physical audit. Subah was also in the news for having received more government money to supply motorbikes for street naming in Ghana.

But beyond all that, Subah is now at various stages of completing installation of its equipment on the billing systems and switches of the telcos to do real time monitoring of domestic traffic on behalf of the GRA. It has not as yet started actual verification though.

A brief tour at the Subah plant at Roman Ridge indicate they have the equipment for real time verification and reporting.

Additionally, Subah has reportedly announced to government that they have bought out GVG’s operations in Ghana in an estimated US$9million deal. This arguably places Subah in the position to also do incoming international traffic verification, and automatically kicks out GVG from the race for the Clearinghouse license.

Besides, GVG does not yield itself for profiling as it has no clear online presence. It is reportedly doing successful real time verification in Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia and other parts of Africa, but it was also reported to have been kicked out of Senegal, and could not even take off in Ghana.

The other feather in the cup of Subah is that two former top officials of industry regulator, National Communication Authority (NCA), are now on the Subah team. The two are Former NCA Director-Geneal Bernard Forson, and former Director of Regulatory Administration, Joshua Peprah.

Meanwhile, Subah recently signed a business partnership agreement with Guma Group of South Africa, which is the mother company of Gigima. So Subah has connections with GVG and Gigiman, and that threatens to muscle out the only remaining stand-alone local contender for the clearinghouse license, Afriwave.

 
Afriwave

Afriwave Telecoms Ghana Limited is a wholly Ghanaian-owned company with vast experience is telecoms infrastructure supply, installation, deployment and management. The company also offers telecoms consultancy and manufacturer representation service, and also has a value added service license.

It has a proven track record of single handedly fighting and killing fixed line call bypass in Ghana. Years before SIM box fraud came to Ghana, fraudsters used to terminate international traffic through fixed line phone numbers. But Afriwaves provided solutions to Ghana Telecoms (now Vodafone), which killed the business of those fraudsters.

Beyond that, Afriwave was also very instrumental in building the Westel (now Airtel) network and Ghana Telecoms mobile network from scratch. It also consults for several telcos and other industry players on highly technical industry issues.

The company provides unparalleled variety of services ranging from Network Transformation Solutions & Services, Value Added Services, and Product Engineering.

It is also very well known by industry players for utilizing competent skills and expertise to provide a complete range of professional and end-to-end support services including Tower Refurbishment, Tower Strengthening, Tower Audit, Tower Extension/Reduction, Site upgrades, Cell site Maintenance, Site acquisition, design and construction, Radio implementation, Radio engineering, Project management, Post implementation support, Consultancy, Networking, Supplies of Telecom equipment, Installation of Fibre networks, Installation of base stations, and maintenance  PABX (private automatic branch exchange) Installations and maintenance. 

“Our technology cut across various infrastructure pillars. The companies possess a proven track record of working with the following technologies; GSM, GPRS, UMTS, TETRA, WiMax, LTE, CDMA, FTTH,” it said on its website.

Afriwave’s list of industry clientele include mainly Westel/Zain/Airtel, Vodafone Ghana, Helios Towers, Scancom Limited (MTN), National Investment Bank and CHF Nigeria among others. It also consults for a number of overseas industry players seeking to invest in Ghana.   

Like Subah, Afriwave also has the real time verification equipment ready to connect to the systems of the various telcos and VAS players within a matter of six months if it won the license to do so.

  Story by Ghana|Adom Business|Samuel Nii Narku Dowuona/[email protected]/www.Simcardblog.WordPress.com

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