PTA retains ban on Internet telephony, voice chat channels
KARACHI- The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has decided to continue ban on Internet telephony and voice chat channels despite giving indications for quite some time it would remove the ban within a week.
“The Chairman PTA, General (Retd) Shahzada Alam Malik called this morning to inform the ISPAK about the decision regarding Net2Phone and similar sites. He was regretful and sorry that his entire staff was against unblocking the site thus the sites will remain blocked”, said an Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK).
The PTA had called a crucial meeting on November 1 inviting the ISPAK and PTCL to discuss the ban. At the end of the meeting the Authority asked the PTCL to prove within a week that the ban on Internet telephony and voice chat channels had brought positive impact to its business in actual terms otherwise it would be no more. A week passed to the meeting, but neither the PTCL submitted any report nor the PTA removed ban. And now over a week after the meeting the PTA informed the ISPs that it had decided to continue the ban.
“The blocking of these sites, in our opinion, had nothing to do with the PTCL revenue but the lobby operating illegal call termination in Pakistan was losing their business”, said the ISPAK release. The telecoms 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.
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 last month, which did not only vex the ISPs but also drew harsh response from general Internet users. “ISPAK regrets the inconvenience to which Internet users have been subjected due to the short-sighted policies of the PTCL and PTA. In fact, this policy will have a very long lasting ill effect on our IT Industry, long after the current bosses of these organisations are gone”, added the ISPAK statement.
Source: The News