‘Blocking of phone calls a growing problem’

26 June 2020

Call blocking by South Africa’s biggest network operators is negatively impacting many local telecoms customers who are finding they cannot always successfully complete phone calls.

That is the view of Anthony Engelbrecht, technical director at independent telco, Huge Networks, who said that some clients of SA’s many Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telecoms networks such as Huge Networks, Connection Telecoms and dozens of others are increasingly finding that calls they place are not reaching the intended telecoms user.
“The incumbent telecoms operators seem to be pulling out all the stops to fight back against consumer choice. On an operational level, this is leading to billing disputes where excellent and mutually- beneficial relationships have existed in the recent past,” Engelbrecht said. “Enormous profits can be made when an operator knowingly or unknowingly bills a locally-originating call at the inflated international interconnection rate simply because it has some hallmarks of being placed or journeying outside our borders.”

According to Rob Lith of Connection Telecom: “Call blocking related to international call termination rate disputes involves potentially hundreds or thousands of blocked numbers impacting millions of telecoms users. The timing is especially bad. First loadshedding prevents South Africa’s underperforming economy from gath- ering steam and now the country’s big telecoms networks are thwarting eco- nomic activity by preventing people from reaching each other.”

SA’s VoIP operators are in full agree- ment of the need to present accurate originating call details. However, there are innumerable instances where international calls are received on a local PBX system and then immedi- ately diverted to a SA mobile phone. The relevant regulations require that the original international Caller Line Identity (CLI) details are preserved as the call is routed from overseas to the local mobile number. This means the forwarded call is charged at interna- tional termination rates by the relevant SA mobile operator.