• Friday, December 19, 2014

Freedom in the air

Regulator moves to rein in illegal use of VoIP

Star Business Report

The telecom regulator will monitor how international call carriers of the country use their internet bandwidth, in a bid to track those involved in illegal call termination.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission will start monitoring international gateways (IGWs) and interconnection exchanges (ICXs) in three weeks, BTRC Chairman Sunil Kanti Bose said yesterday.
IGWs transport international calls, while ICXs connect different telecom service providers. If any call comes to the country bypassing the IGW-ICX route, it becomes illegal and the government does not get any revenue.
Currently, some service providers carry international calls through illegal channels using voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology, Bose said. “The volume of proper and illegal calls is almost the same.”
He spoke at a roundtable on “illegal call termination: current situation and way out” at Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka. Telecom Reporters' Association of Bangladesh, a platform of telecom journalists, organised the event.
The BTRC chief also asked the telecom service providers to fight as a team against the illegal operators.
The telecom ministry on Wednesday decided to slash international incoming call rate by 50 percent to $0.015 a minute. The rate will be effective once the finance ministry gives a go-ahead to it.
Bose said the regulator will see whether the volume of international calls increases after the new call rate comes into effect.
The gateways will be affected if the new rate is approved; instead the regulator should strengthen the monitoring system, said Mir Nasir Hossain, managing director of Mir Telecom, an IGW.
At least 90 percent of illegal calls can be curtailed through proper monitoring, said Mir Masud Kabir, managing director of Mango Teleservices.
It will be tough for the regulator to control illegal calls through monitoring or with technical efforts; rather a political will is required to stop it, said Sumon Ahmed Sabir, chief strategy officer of Fiber@Home, a telecom transmission provider.
The government should not regulate the telecom sector, especially the call rates, said Abu Saeed Khan, senior fellow of LIRNEasia, a Colombo-based ICT think tank.
Due to illegal VoIP, Grameenphone could not collect Tk 87 crore from the IGWs, and a dispute is going on over due bills worth more than Tk 120 crore between the mobile operator and the state-run Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd, said Mahmud Hossain, chief corporate affairs officer of Grameenphone.

Mahmudur Rahman, executive vice president of Robi, said his firm barred 7.50 lakh SIMs which were used for illegal VoIP.
Banglalink also counts huge losses due to illegal VoIP, said its senior director Zakiul Islam. A mobile operator gets Tk 0.48 for each minute of a call, but the amount comes down to only Tk 0.18 if illegal VoIP is used, he said.

Published: 12:00 am Sunday, February 09, 2014

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