1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The telecommunications industry generates and stores a tremendousamount of data (Han et al, 2002). These data include call detail data, which describes the callsthat traverse the telecommunication networks, network data, which describesthe state of the hardware and software components in the network, andcustomer data, which describes the telecommunication customers (Roset et al, 1999). Theamount of data is so great that manual analysis of the data is difficult, if notimpossible. The need to handle such large volumes of data led to thedevelopment of knowledge-based expert systems. These automated systemsperformed important functions such as identifying fraudulent phone calls andidentifying network faults. The problem with this approach is that it is timeconsumingto obtain the knowledge from human experts (the “knowledgeacquisition bottleneck”) and, in many cases, the experts do not have the requisite knowledge. The advent of data mining technology promisedsolutions to these problems and for this reason the telecommunicationsindustry was an early adopter of data mining technology (Roset et al, 1999).
Telecommunication data pose several interesting issues for data mining.The first concerns scale, since telecommunication databases may containbillions of records and are amongst the largest in the world. A second issueis that the raw data is often not suitable for data mining. For example, bothcall detail and network data are time-series data that represent individualevents. Before this data can be effectively mined, useful “summary” featuresmust be identified and then the data must be summarized using thesefeatures. Because many data mining applications in the telecommunicationsindustry involve predicting very rare events, such as the failure of a networkelement or an instance of telephone fraud, rarity is another issue that must bedealt with. The fourth and final data mining issue concerns real-time performance because many data mining applications, such as fraud detection, requirethat any learned model/rules be applied in real-time (Ezawa& Norton, 1995). Several techniques has also been applied is tackling all these issues in telecommunication companies.
Telecommunication networks are extremely complex configurations ofequipment, comprised of thousands of interconnected components. Eachnetwork element is capable of generating error and status messages, whichleads to a tremendous amount of network data. This data must be stored and analyzed in order to support network management functions, such as faultisolation. This data will minimally include a timestamp, a string thatuniquely identifies the hardware or software component generating themessage and a code that explains why the message is being generated. Forexample, such a message might indicate that “controller 7 experienced a lossof power for 30 seconds starting at 10:03 pm on Monday, May 12.”
Due to the enormous number of network messages generated, technicianscannot possibly handle every message. For this reason expert systems havebeen developed to automatically analyze these messages and takeappropriate action, only involving a technician when a problem cannot beautomatically resolved (Weiss, Ros&Singhal, 1998). This study is focused on MTN Nigeria.
MTN Nigeria is part of the MTN Group, Africa's leading cellular telecommunications company. On May 16, 2001, MTN became the first GSM network to make a call following the globally lauded Nigerian GSM auction conducted by the Nigerian Communications Commission earlier in the year. Thereafter the company launched full commercial operations beginning with Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.MTN paid $285m for one of four GSM licenses in Nigeria in January 2001. To date, in excess of US$1.8 billion has been invested building mobile telecommunications infrastructure in Nigeria.
Since launch in August 2001, MTN has steadily deployed its services across Nigeria. It now provides services in 223 cities and towns, more than 10,000 villages and communities and a growing number of highways across the country, spanning the 36 states of the Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Many of these villages and communities are being connected to the world of telecommunications for the first time ever.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Fraud is a serious problem for telecommunication companies, leading tobillions of dollars in lost revenue each year. Fraud can be divided into twocategories: subscription fraud and superimposition fraud. Subscription fraudoccurs when a customer opens an account with the intention of never payingfor the account charges. Superimposition fraud involves a legitimate accountwith some legitimate activity, but also includes some “superimposed”illegitimate activity by a person other than the account holder.Superimposition fraud poses a bigger problem for the telecommunicationsindustry and for this reason data mining technique is used for identifying this typeof fraud. These applications should ideally operate in real-time using the calldetail records and, once fraud is detected or suspected, should trigger someaction. This action may be to immediately block the call and/or deactivatethe account, or may involve opening an investigation, which will result in acall to the customer to verify the legitimacy of the account activity. However, this study will examine various data mining techniques of telecommunication companies in Nigeria.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study:
1. To provide an overview on data mining.
2. To examine the various data mining techniques of telecommunication companies in Nigeria
3. To identify the challenges of data mining faced by telecommunication companies in Nigeria
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What is data mining?
2. What are the various data mining techniques of telecommunication companies in Nigeria?
3. What are the challenges of data mining faced by telecommunication companies in Nigeria?
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
1. The outcome of this study will educate on data mining techniques of telecommunication companies in Nigeria, the data mining applications and how they can be used in fraud detection.
2. This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the effect of personality trait on student’s academic performance, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area.
1.7 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study will cover various data mining techniques used by telecommunication companies in Nigeria.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
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