Ban on Internet telephony, voice chat, PTA seeks PTCL's reply on impact -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Ban on Internet telephony, voice chat, PTA seeks PTCL’s reply on impact

KARACHI- The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) on November 8, 2002 asked Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) to prove within a week that a ban on Internet telephony and voice chat had really brought positive impact on its business, otherwise it would be no more.

This was the conclusion of a crucial meeting chaired by Chairman PTA at Islamabad and attended by representatives of PTCL and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to resolve the thorny issue of ban on Internet telephony and voice chat, official sources said.

The telecoms regulator, earlier this year, had put a stop to Internet telephony by imposing a ban on 17 websites, which facilitated calls to North America by passing the PTCL. PTCL officials argue that under the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organisation) Act 1996, basic telephone services were the prerogative of the phone utility.

The Act declares that “basic telephone services mean the provision of any telecommunications service, which consists of two-way live voice telephone service in digital form or otherwise over any fixed switched network or between base stations or switches or modes of any public mobile switched network; real-time transmission or reception of facsimile images over a public fixed switched network; international telephony service; and the lease of circuits for the provisions of the services specified.”

After banning Internet telephony earlier this year, the PTA last month also banned MSN Voice, which did not only vex the ISPs but also receive harsh response from general Internet browsers.

After strong uproar from ISPs and general public, the PTA in mid-October invited PTCL and Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK), the only representative body of the 112 ISPs in the country, to prove their claims in favour of and against the ban on Internet telephony and voice chat.

During the meeting, the PTCL’s Director General Strategic Business Planning apprised the participants that since the ban on Internet telephony, the company’s business of international calls had increased by 100 per cent.

ISPAK’s secretary general and member executive committee opposed such claim of the state-owned telecoms operator, saying that the business of PTCL had increased due to its tariff, which it initially cut in July this year and further slashed last month.

The cut in tariff automatically increased the volume of business, which brought about a positive impact on PTCL business. He said that such a tactic could not be termed a “positive impact”.

The PTCL last month brought down rates for calling abroad. For Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, the international call rate has been brought down to Rs25 per minute.

For some other countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Russia, the international call rate has been decreased to Rs39 per minute.

On such arguments from both sides the Chairman PTA asked the PTCL official to prove their claim that company’s business really boosted after ban on Internet telephony and voice chat.

Source: The News