VoIP licence issue caught in a spat

The long-standing tussle between the ministry of post and telecommunication (MoPT) and the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has given a new dimension to issuance of much-talked-about voice over internet protocol (VoIP) licences.

The MoPT has taken away from the BTRC the powers to form the selection committee that would issue VoIP licences, sources said. It has also cancelled the system of evaluating applications and selecting licensees based on the marks they achieve at the evaluation.

Besides, the ministry has removed the provision of limiting the number of licences to be issued from the draft guideline, keeping the field open to any number of licensees, sources said.

Terming these changes a violation of the Telecommunication Act 2010, BTRC chairman Maj Gen Zia Ahmed said: “This is not the best practice being followed in the interest of the telecom sector.” He added that it would flood the market with a large number of licensees of questionable abilities.

It is to be noted that the Telecommunication Act 2010 took away some powers, including the issuance of telecom licences, from the regulator, BTRC, and give them to the MoPT.

Ahmed said the MoPT didn’t consider BTRC’s recommendations on the issuance of VoIP licences. “In our draft guideline, we limited the maximum number of licences to be issued, but the MoPT has now dropped that provision,” he said.

He said that a few months ago, the MoPT had issued 78 gateway licences ignoring a BTRC suggestion that the current telecom market couldn’t accommodate such a large number of licensees.

“We will send a letter to the MoPT asking them to reconsider these changes,” he said.

Meanwhile, a high official of the MoPT told The Independent that the MoPT had not violated the Telecommunication Act 2010. The Act clearly mentions that the MoPT has the final say over issuance of telecom licences, he added.

The ministry official further said the MoPT had previously asked the BTRC to include an official of the ministry on the committee that drafted the guideline, but BTRC didn’t do that.

These change wouldn’t have been made if that committee had a member from the MoPT, the ministry official said.

The MoPT will now ask the VoIP licensees to use the infrastructure of international gateway (IGW) operators in order to curb the misuse of VoIP, the ministry official said.

The VoIP licence holders don’t need to build infrastructure of their own as they can use the infrastructure of the gateway operators, he official said and pointed out that it would make monitoring easy.

News Source: 
The Independent