ISPs get stay against PTCL ban on net telephony -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

ISPs get stay against PTCL ban on net telephony

KARACHI- Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have moved Sindh High Court against the ban placed by the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) on Internet Telephony and Net2Phone websites, and were granted stay-order till the court comes up with its ruling on the continued row between ISPs and PTCL over the issue. It remains unresolved by the regulatory authority, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) a source from ISPs said.

On the application moved by the ISPs, the courts while granting the stay-order has issued notices to respondents, the government of Pakistan, Ministry of Science and Technology, PTCL, PTA and Regional Directorate of PTCL for Tuesday for further hearing. This is probably first case of this nature brought before the court.

PTCL after placing ban on Internet Telephony has issued notices to all ISPs, respectively, asking them for closure of Net2Phone websites, at the same time warning of consequences on non-compliance, PTCL after banning ‘STM-route’ no. 1 itself blocked Internet Telephony network of several ISPs while issued notices to some of leading ISPs, asking them to themselves close down their Net2phone websites.

ISPs after failing to manage decision from PTA in their favour have take the matter before the court, which granted them a stay-order and issued notices to aforementioned parties for today’s hearing.

PTA earlier in its decision on complaint of ISPs against the banning Net2phone websites by PTCL had decided to remove the ban from January 1, 2003. Having looked into pros and cons of the subject specifically the monopoly of PTCL and its implication on deregulation of the telecommunication sector, perusal of the legal provisions of the Act and License of the PTCL and the arguments of the parties, the Authority has decided to unblock access to Net2phone website with effective from January 1, 2003, PTA through a letter to ISPs informed of its decision. ‘Before this date access to Net2phone website shall remain blocked.’

ISPs however rejected the decision and said PTCL has no right on Internet Telephony, hence no authority to ban website. They demanded the ban should be removed immediately.

According to them, under the law PTCL’s right on Basic Telephony was not applicable in the case of Internet Telephony, as Basic Telephony as defined in the Telephone Act Sec 2(b), is ‘any 2 Way Live Digital or Non-Digital Voice Communication over Public Fixed or Mobile Switched Network.’

‘Internet is basically a connection-less network and as such it does not come under the definition given in Telecom Act. Any websites on any media that is the International Private Leased Line cannot be blocked’.

The court while accepting ISPs filed application under Section 7 (1) and 7 (3) of Pakistan Telecommunication Act issued notices to respondents for Tuesday. ISPs had earlier also filed an application before Government of Pakistan on same matter. Decision on this regard was to come as yet.

Source: The Nation