ISPs reject PTA decision, challenge PTCL monopoly -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

ISPs reject PTA decision, challenge PTCL monopoly

KARACHI- Internet Service Providers (ISPs) on November 18, 2002 filed an appeal before the Government of Pakistan, challenging the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) monopoly on Pakistan Internet Exchange (PIE), an official of Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK) told sources. The rejected the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTAs) decision of retaining ban on Internet Telephony till end of this year.

The Ministry of Science and Technology had assured Internet Service Providers that PTCL will not monopolize the (PIE). Contrary to this assurance, PTCL has illegally blocked Net2Phone and other websites’, General Secretary ISPAK V.A Abdi said. ‘We have filed an appeal on November 18, 2002 under the Pak Telecom (reorganization) Act, 1996, seeking removal of the ban.’

Under the law PTCL does not have an exclusive right on Internet Telephony as it doesn’t come under the ‘basic telephony’, therefore, ISPs have challenged the ban before government, while they would file an appeal before the high court on November 18, Abdi said. The Section 7 (1) and 7 (3) of Pakistan Telecom Act provides them with the right of an appeal before a court and the government against the blocking of websites and unlawful act of PTA or PTCL.

PTA at a meeting in Islamabad with Shahzad Alam in the chair decided that the ban on Net2phone would be removed from January next. The decision, according PTA was taken after reviewing viewpoints of both, PTCL and ISPs. It however did not come up with details about the PTCL’s report about the revenue loss and the complaints of violation of its monopoly over the basic telephony by ISPs.

ISPs have rejected the PTA decision on grounds that:-

(i) PTA decision itself is meant to ‘recognize’ and ‘legalise’ the PTCL monopoly on PIE and the ban on Internet Telephony. While, according to them, the PTCL’s exclusive right on basic telephony was not applicable in the case of Internet Telephony. Basic Telephony as defined in the Telecom Act Sec 2(b), is ‘any 2 Way Live Digital or Non-Digital Voice Communication over Public Fixed or Mobile Switched Network.’ While Internet is a connection-less network and as such it does not come under the definition given in Telecom Act. Therefore, any website on any media that is the International Private Leased Line cannot blocked.

(ii) ISPs also maintained that there was no justification of PTA decision of removing ban on Net2Phone from January 2003, as from this date the telecom sector would be de-regularized. Hence, there was no point of removing ban when the whole sector is opened up and PTCL losses it monopoly. Abdi said ISPs were not provided of details of PTCL’s stance and rejected PTA decision as ‘unlawful’.

PTCL had placed a ban on Net2Phone and voice chat for violation of basic telephony’ by ISPs. ISPs challenged the banning before PTA on November 4, which as on November 16, 2002 retained the ban till end of this year.
Source: The Nation