ISPs allowed Internet telephony -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

ISPs allowed Internet telephony

KARACHI- The Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited has allowed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with International Price Leased Line (IPL) to resume Internet telephony services.

The PTCL had earlier this year imposed ban on Internet telephony by blocking 17 websites, which facilitated calls to North America bypassing the PTCL network. The decision dealt a major blow to ISP’s and they lodged a complaint in this connection with the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) and Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST).

The PTCL and ISPs met several times to sort out the issue and at one point the PTA had to ask PTCL to prove if the ban had had any beneficial impact on its revenue. But, the meetings at large proved unfruitful ending in no middle of the road decision agreeable to both parties.

The 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 provision of the services specified.”

After banning Internet telephony earlier this year, the PTA also banned MSN Voice, which did not only vex the ISP’s but also drew harsh response from general Internet users.

Though the PTA announced a few days back, the ban would be lifted in January 2003, ISPs and telecom regulator are still loggerheads. A total five ISP’s have so far filed petitions with the PTA, MoST and Sindh High Court arguing that since the PTA was not authorised to impose ban on Internet telephony, it had no right to decide when it would go.

They claim that according to clause 3 of section 7 of the PTA Act 1996, the Authority has no such right to block the services, which are not basic telephony.

The ISP’s are of the view that Internet telephony, due to various technical, organizational and structural shortcomings, cannot be considered equal to telephony services based on switched network.

They say that Internet telephony is based on a connectionless network and does not use fixed or mobile-switched network as defined in the Act. Therefore, it never was under the sole rights of PTCL and it will never be under the rights of those, who would acquire any concession to operate basic telephony until section 2(b) is amended.
Source: The News