Five internet protocol telephony service providers (IPTSP) have recently won regulatory approval to roll out app-based services to make calls at much cheaper rates than those offered by the telecom operators.
In a recent meeting, Bangladesh Telecommuni-cation Regulatory Commission (BTRC) approved the applications of Amber IT Ltd, BDCOM Online Ltd, MetroNet Bangladesh and Link3 Technology Ltd.
Inter Cloud, another IPTSP operator, was the first company to be given go-ahead by the commission a few months ago to introduce app-based calling service “Brilliant Connect”.
“This will be a big leap forward from the traditional telecommunication to internet protocol-based platform,” said Mohammad Aminul Hakim, CEO of Amber IT.
“This will be a much secure platform and the calling cost will halve,” said Hakim, also the president of Internet Service Providers Association Bangladesh (ISPAB).
Both Amber IT and BDCOM Online have targeted to introduce the service within a month.
Anowar Hasan Sabir, head of IPTSP at BDCOM Online, said the service would change the dynamics of the internet protocol-based telephony services in Bangladesh.
“This will be a very convenient service as customers will be able to call to a mobile phone number using our applications.”
Calling to another IPTSP's application will be free as IPTSP customers are already enjoying the facility under the existing structure, Sabir added.
With the apps, users can make calls to anywhere in the world at the same price.
This, however, raises concerns about the potential misuse of the service for international call termination, said BTRC officials.
The engineering and operation department of the commission in its observation said that allowing IPTSPs to introduce the app-based calling service would create a scope to turn incoming international calls into local calls.
The generation of such calls would affect the government's revenue earnings from the incoming international calls, said the department.
In the context of rapidly falling international incoming calls, allowing the IPTSP operators to run the service might lead to a further decline.
Sabir said customers who are currently using WhatsApp, Imo, Viber or other communication channels to make calls would switch to their applications as the latter is convenient and free.
The five service providers have been allowed to run app-based calling service subject to compliance with 14 conditions.
They will have to submit Tk 5 crore in security deposit. In case of any violation of the conditions, the commission will take the full amount or a portion of the deposit to its account considering the level of the violation.
The operators will have to ensure that none can misuse the technology to generate local or international calls to deprive the government or any other entity of any revenue.
International call termination must be completed through international gateway operators and interconnection exchange operators.
Besides, the IPTSPs will have to take prior approval from the commission to offer value-added services.