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30 November, 2016 00:00 00 AM
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Teletalk sits pretty despite involvement in illegal VoIP

Telecom secretary pledges action against all operators
STAFF REPORTER
Teletalk sits pretty despite 
involvement in illegal VoIP

Despite ample evidence that the state-owned Teletalk is engaged in the illegal Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) business, steps cannot be taken against it because a certain influential quarter is involved. 

Even the hands of the telecom regulator, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), are tied in respect of Teletalk. 
According to the reports presented at several meetings of the commission, it became evident that around 98 per cent of illegal VoIP calls in Bangladesh are being terminated through the state-owned operator.  
Teletalk’s involvement in illegal termination of VoIP calls has been confirmed through the test calls of two international call monitoring organisations, Sigos and 3VI. 
When telecom secretary Faizur Rahman Chowdhury was asked on Friday as to why steps cannot be taken against Teletalk even though ample evidence is available, he replied that they have zero tolerance in respect of illegal VoIP. 
“It doesn’t matter whether it is a state-owned organisation such as Teletalk or other operators; we will take the necessary steps against the ones who are involved in the illegal VoIP business,” he asserted.  According to the  BTRC’s internal report, it was found that the state is losing more than Tk 1,000 crore per year because of illegal call terminations through VoIP, which bypasses the state revenue system.
Because of such VoIP illegal call terminations, International Gateway (IGW) operators—which have the legal provision to terminate international calls—are losing out on business. 
BTRC data say that on an average, a total of four crore minutes of calls is coming into the country everyday and Teletalk is earning Tk 72 crore each month because of this. But the illegal VoIP syndicate of Teletalk is also amassing another Tk 72 crore. 
The cost of an illegal call per minute is Tk 1.20. The illegal operators are earning Tk 0.60 from it which, when accumulated, becomes Tk 72 crore by the month-end. The remainder—Tk 72 crore—goes into Teletalk’s kitty. 
Of that money, Teletalk shares only 6.5 per cent or Tk 4.68 crore with the BTRC by showing the data as legal call terminations. 
Dubbing this “a robbery”, the IGW operators say if this is not stopped, the businesspeople, who are doing business legally, would lose their businesses completely. 
An official from an IGW operator said the government has instructed them to reduce the call rates. “If we reduce our call rates, would it stop illegal calls being terminated through VoIP? If that is the case, then illegal VoIP would have stopped after call rates were reduced from four cents to three cents,” he said. 
He also warned that the IGW operators would lose interest in doing business if the government, instead of taking steps to stop illegal VoIP calls completely, thinks that a reduction in call rates is the solution to this problem. 
“If we reduce our call rates, then the illegal VoIP operators will also reduce their call rates. Reduction in call rates is not the solution here,” he added.
Despite repeated attempts, State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Division Tarana Halim could not be reached over phone for comments on the illegal VoIP issue. 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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