ISPs to move court against ban on Internet telephony -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

ISPs to move court against ban on Internet telephony

KARACHI- The country’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have decided to move the court against banning Internet telephony by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), which they say is an illegal act totally, and does not fall within the jurisdiction of the authority.

“We will move the court against such an act of the PTA which has not only vexed the general users of the country but has also pushed the country’s ISPs on the verge of total collapse”, Ansar-ul-Haq, President Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK), told a press conference at a local hotel on Friday, along with Secretary General, V A Abidi.

He said that the PTA had just one thing to do and that was to facilitate the PTCL high-ups. “During the last few years, some 35 ISPs had shut down their businesses and more are on the verge of collapse”, he lamented.

The telecom regulator earlier this year put a stop to Internet telephony by imposing a ban on 17 websites, which facilitated calls to North America, bypassing the PTCL. The PTCL officials argue that under the Pakistan Telecommunications (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 the Internet telephony earlier this year, the PTA last month also banned the MSN Voice, which not only angered the ISPs but also got a harsh response from the general Internet browsers.

Elaborating the PTA’s contention, that the PTCL had the exclusive right over basic telephony, V A Abidi, Secretary General ISPAK said that it was not applicable in the case of Internet telephony.

“Basic telephony has been defined in the Telecom Act Sec 2(b), as any 2-way live digital or non-digital voice communication over the public, fixed or mobile switched network”, he defined.

“Internet is basically a connection-less network as such, it does not come under the definition given in the Telecom Act”, Abidi added. He said that on the contrary, this action of the PTA was violating the very function of the PTA under Section 4.

The Section, he added, of the Act whereby PTA had been mandated to promote and protect the interests of users of the Telecom services in Pakistan and promote and protect the availability of wide range of high quality, efficient, cost effective and competitive Telecom services to the public.

The ISPAK office bearers regretted that in such an uncompetitive environment where the nation was expecting a deregulation of the telecom sector and hoping for better and efficient services, these kinds of faulty decisions will create serious doubts among foreign investors in this sector, which was expecting a $5 billion investment after the deregulation
Source: The News