PTA to promote Internet telephony -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

PTA to promote Internet telephony

LAHORE: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has prepared a consultation paper to promote IP telephony, a modern form of telephony in which the services of calls between computers, PC-to-phone and phone-to-phone are available.

The IP telephony, which is also called Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), is routing of voice conversations over the Internet or through any other IP-based network. The PTA observed that this technology is exciting in so many ways, because for the first time in history, customers really do have a choice in the service provider they use for their local and long-distant phone calls.

The authority stated that IP Telephony offerings can be divided into three categories including Voice communication between computers without access to Plain Old Telephony Services (POTS), communications within companies or used within a public operator’s core network and publicly available services provided to the end-user using VOIP technology.

The benefits of this technology stem from much lower cost of communication over IP telephony as compared to conventional telephone calls especially for international communication, the PTA observed and added that implementation of voice services over IP platform means transforming whole economic and competitive dynamics of telecommunications market. VOIP rides over the Internet which itself may be characterized as a logical architecture that is independent of any particular network. It permits multiple different networks to be interconnected in such a way that computers and people can communicate without the need to know which network they are using or how to route information to them, the PTA added.

According to PTA the IP telephony market grew about 75 per cent in the second quarter of this year to $728 million, up from $414.7 million the same quarter last year. The authority quoted figures that international VOIP increased by 35 per cent from 2003 to 2004.

Many operators around the globe were using VOIP to carry part of their international traffic in 2004. The total number of fixed-line VOIP subscribers (broadband) had reached nearly 160 million at the end of the 2004. Broadband Internet subscribers represented approximately 2.5 percent of the world’s population, and 38 per cent of all Internet subscribers worldwide in 2004.

The PTA said that transition from circuit switching to next generation network has already invaded the market and it is a matter of time when end to end IP deployment hits the market. The PTA observed that the installation of WiMAX is already underway by other operators. Pakistan market has reached a stage where regulatory approach needs immediate adjustment to take care of the emerging telecom scenario for the growth of the market before events overtake the actions and regulatory adjustments are made to follow the market instead of guiding them where customers opt for the services without having legal protections. It can only be guaranteed through a proper and effective regulatory arrangement taking into consideration market forces and customer rights and balancing the two in an equitable and fair manner, PTA added.

The authority said that PTA would create a fair regulatory regime to promote investment, encourage competition, protect consumer interest and ensure high quality information and communication technology services.

The authority stated that the use of Net2phone and other such VOIP devices will be allowed, provided these VOIP providers enter into a partnership with a holder of an LDI License and such services are provided under the name of the

PTA Licensee. Importers of VOIP adapters (IP to telephone line) or IP phones must produce a valid PTA license and appropriate Type Approval from PTA. While seeking comments from the stakeholders, the PTA said that it would actively monitor and assess IP Telephony regulatory developments and experiences worldwide, with special attention to benchmarking countries, on an ongoing basis.
Source: The News