Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - Bangladesh Telecom

Govt decides on open licensing for VoIP operation

The government has decided to provide the Voice over Internet Protocol operation licence to the private sector through open licensing system.

Sources in the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission have said the government had decided last year to go for open licensing system for VoIP operations and finalised the terms and conditions in this regard.

'Under the open licensing system, a company with sound financial strength could obtain a licence from the commission after fulfilling certain criteria,' said a top official of the regulatory commission on Tuesday.

The licence will initially be provided for five years and may be renewed if the operator’s performance is satisfactory, said the official.

Earlier, the government had fixed Tk 50 lakh and Tk 50 thousand as the highest and lowest licence fees for VoIP operation licence on the basis of the bandwidth use.

The government fixed eight bandwidth slabs and an operator would have to pay Tk 50 thousand for the licence of using the bandwidth capacity of 64kbps, the lowest slab, and Tk 50 lakh for the bandwidth capacity of STM 4, the highest slab.

The BTRC officials, however, said although the government had already fixed the licence fees and terms and conditions for VoIP operation, it would not start giving the licences before the establishment of common exchange platforms.

The government earlier planned to set up common exchange platforms in four places — Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and Bogra — to monitor the voice traffic data and ensure revenue earning from the VoIP operators.

The platforms will be established at a cost of Tk 30 crore.
The Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board, which will manage the platforms, floated a tender in January for setting up the platform in Dhaka initially.

VoIP, also known as internet telephony, is a technology for transmitting voice calls over
the internet in digital packets rather than over circuit of the public-switched telephone network.

The cabinet on November 10, 2003 approved VoIP and asked the telecom regula-tory body to open the sector soon for making overseas calls cheaper.

Meanwhile, some people have earned windfalls from illegal VoIP operations, though punishable under the Bangladesh Telecommunications Act 2001, depriving the government of revenue amounting to around Tk 1,000 crore a year, according to the regulatory commission.

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