Cell C, Vodacom, MTN SA, Telkom, and Liquid Intelligent Technologies have created a non-profit organisation, the Communication Risk Information Centre (COMRiC), with the aim of better protecting telecom network investments.
COMRiC will focus primarily on the industry’s collective identification, prevention and mitigation of common risk issues, with a particular focus on critical infrastructure network vandalism, commercial crimes, and cyber security for the year 2022.
The launch of COMRiC comes in the wake of an increase in the number of incidences of damage on telecoms infrastructure.
Cell C, MTN SA, Vodacom and Telkom have all been victims of theft and damage, resulting in communication service interruptions.
Mobile carriers have lost hundreds of millions due to this over the years. In some circumstances, the pace of damage and theft, particularly multiple repeat incidences, is forcing operators to abandon base stations due to nonviable replacement costs.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), which regulates telecommunications, is also concerned about infrastructure damage.
ICASA had to approach the National Joint Operations and Intelligence Services last year to request that the preservation and protection of this critical telecommunications infrastructure be prioritised.
The Critical Infrastructure Monitoring Operations Centre (CiMOC), which operates within the COMRiC structure, was established as a consequence of collaboration between SA’s network operators to combat theft and network infrastructure damage, according to COMRiC CEO Vernall Muller.
The collective monitoring of critical network infrastructure theft and vandalism across the combined South African telco network footprint will be a top priority for the CiMOC.
Working together with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to identify and apprehend suspects in network vandalism, store robberies, battery theft, and fraudulent application scenarios, including commercial crimes, is part of this.