Govt move is underway to bring VoIP under legal cover

March 22nd, 2010

A move is underway to bring illegal VoIP (voice over internet protocol) under a legal framework by renting out E1 connections to the operators.

E1 is an all-digital communications line that allows transmission of voice, data, video, and graphics at high speed compared to standard communication lines. Illegal VoIP operators handle international calls through the E1 devices.

The parliamentary standing committee on the post and telecommunication ministry yesterday asked state-run Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL), the distributor of E1, to make a report on whether the government’s earnings will increase or decrease if VoIP operators use the line.

BTCL charges Tk 1.2 lakh for each E1 connection that can rout 30 calls at a time.

“The parliamentary body is looking for a suitable way to legalise international call termination through VoIP. The committee has asked BTCL to provide a report on E1 rental,” said Zia Ahmed, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.

Earlier, the government had decided in principle to issue more international gateway licences for handling international calls to trigger a price war and bring illegal VoIP operators under a legal framework.

Around 60 million minutes of international calls are made in and out of Bangladesh a day. Illegal VoIP handlers rout around 40 percent calls of the total volume.

Presently, BTCL rents out E1 connections to the licensed telecom operators.

Telecoms ministry officials said, according to law, the VoIP operators will still remain illegal as they will have to take licences for both E1 connection and for routing international calls.

However, if the government wants to bring VoIP operators under a legal framework, the recently amended international long distance telecommunication services (ILDTS) policy will require a further modification.

The BTRC chairman said the parliamentary committee has asked the telecoms ministry to submit the policy in the next meeting this month to find out how the amendment should be made.

“A major policy improvement is required, if the government goes for renting out E1 to the VoIP operators,” said Zia Ahmed.

Currently, illegal VoIP operators charge around 1.75 cents per minute for an international call whereas legal call handlers charge 3 cents.

by MD Hasan

5 Responses to “Govt move is underway to bring VoIP under legal cover”

  1. FIRST: VOIP is not illegal whatever they do business for termination or origination
    GIVING YOU SOME INTERESTING POINTS FOR ALL READERS.
    i) One who is doing VOIP in Bangladesh without concern of Govt, they are must paying PSTN/ICX charge per minute to govt [either via Operator (for SIM or RIM or E1) or PSTN(for SIM or RIM or port or E1)]. Operators are getting call charge but Govt is losing small amount of money from them ..I mean revenue profit margin(%) given by BTRC (from IGW). Most of the profit from VOIP is getting each IGW owner. If you contrast between legal or illegal VOIP owners, you can identify less beneficiary our govt. Most of the IGW’s are doing such illegal routes very keen way without concern of govt. but BTRC eyes always focused on other than IGW owners. If you have strong routing & switching ability, you may terminate it anywhere through fiber channel. Basically they are using such technology.

    ii) No one has rights to protect the technology. Whatever barrier they should use, technology itself generates the new idea. Say for example:
    “BTRC has given permission for the ITSP licenses (Around 18 ISP) but they restricted it to the National zone or pass it through IGW. I mean it’s not directly open for International call (termination or origination) without IGW!!! Besides SKYPE communication is allowed for voice chat and its sound is really awesome. Skype Company uses proprietary protocol and it does support behind firewall. Recently, Skype released an add-on in ASTERISKs/SIPEXCS for proprietary protocol to SIP protocol conversion technique. As a result, ITSP owner will take advantage of it because BTRC will monitor it as Skype traffic whereas they (ITSP) will terminate all traffics through SIP technology or vice versa.
    In my sense, 80% regular internet users have any messenger (Yahoo, Msn, Skype,..) account for voice chat. Each messenger has proprietary protocol for voice chat. Time is coming for each add-on release in Gateway to SIP protocol conversion. BTRC will detect their traffic as proprietary protocol :) instead of SIP flow. ITSP will gain its benefit :)
    iii) Most of the illegal route passes through VSAT instead of IIG. VSAT technology is very smart nowadays. They use small dish antenna where projected it 45 degree angle to the satellite. If anyone covers the upper part so that nobody trace it directly from sky. BTRC Intelligent team required to trace it with binocular from 45 degree top angle or by spectrum analyzer. Who is giving such service in Bangladesh? Trace them from govt. ??? Say for example, BTRC specialist (Spectrum section) asked me to visit somewhere for VSAT spectrum investigation where he started query. I was astonished when I found him that he doesn’t know anything how to check the VSAT modem. He doesn’t have any idea about TELNET or port based traffic analysis, packet based Deep inspection and analysis using NMS or NMAP. He asked me for opening the MRTG to trace the VOIP traffic. That day I smiled lots of in absence of him. So how you guess that BTRC will trace VOIP traffic from VSAT? I would suggest to the govt. Please train up your specialized people for investigation of correct spectrum. Better idea we need a central gateway for VSAT communication so that BTRC can trace all traffics .
    iv) BTRC started an ISD service where calling rate is very cheap through VOIP, almost 6 TK per minute cost for most of the countries whereas call to India/Pakistan/etc. is 20 TK per minutes!!!! It’s very strange compare to others geographical location. Why it’s call rate still high? Why govt. is not counting INDIA for cheap calling price? If anyone calls to India from America or Europe, it takes almost 1 cent but why BD people required 20 taka per minutes?? Why Govt’ does not count India as VOIP calling service ?
    SECOND: BTRC required to reduce route price per minute to the IGW so that illegal VOIP owner never compare their total costing with Legal owner. This is only solution to protect the Illegal VOIP otherwise it will never stop in Bangladesh whatever policy govt try to apply.

  2. Moshiur Rahman Khan says:

    Today I went to BTCL for E1 voice carrier rent. I found the procedure where BTCL charges 20000 $USD deposit money for each E1 connection that can route 30 calls at a time and deposite charge 5OOO $USD extra for postpaid or prepaid billing. I have estimated 25000 $USD for each E1 cost where per minute charge is 3 cent !!!! Again TDM to IP cost involvement in it. How to general people will be benifited from BTCL carrier lisence such a way !!! Goverment is losing money because outside telco operators don’t gernerally invest such amount of money for each E1. If we cosider the voloume of STM-1 (=62 E1) traffic , how much money they have to deposite in BTCL !!!!! How BTCL is expecting much more voice termination in Bangladesh rather than ilgeal VOIP !!! Govt should required to contrast between them and make it very easy for gerneral business professional to get the open VOIP framework.

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