Voice over internet: Grey telephony costs public purse Rs800m a month
ISLAMABAD: The government is facing an estimated revenue loss of Rs800 million per month on account of ‘grey telephony’, The Express Tribune has learnt.
“Network operators in Pakistan cannot detect over 70% of illegal telephonic traffic. The state lacks resources to keep the whole telecom sector under the scanner,” FIA Director General Saud Mirza told The Express Tribune.
The authorities concerned have not upgraded the equipment to detect illegal telephone calls on internet (voice over internet protocol or VOIP) which was an additional reason behind the increasing grey telephony, he added.
He said the interior minister had recently sought a briefing over increase in illegal voice over internet traffic particularly since November 2012 due to increase in Approved Settlement Rate (ASR).
PTA officials briefed Nisar Ali Khan on how international calls are re-routed through local — often illegal — exchanges to avoid local taxes because of weak policies, interior ministry officials told The Express Tribune.
A total of 88 joint raids with FIA have been carried out so far across the country since 2009.
PTA spokesperson Khurram Mehran was of the view that PTA provided technical support to FIA to detect such calls. “Yes, it’s true that PTA, due to limited resources, cannot control the whole traffic in the telecom sector,” he told The Express Tribune. One tool available to the PTA, in order to reduce grey traffic, is to reduce the ASR, he added.
Currently, the system for monitoring international voice traffic is only screening 6 % of the total bandwidth and its capacity is decreasing on a daily basis, he said. An official statement by the interior ministry said the cost of the equipment seized in these cases is approximately Rs700 million and the calculated loss averted to the government exchequer is approximately Rs300 million per month.