News From Telecom World

Illegal VoIP trade back in Bangladesh: Captures 40% of int’l calls

Posted on: February 8, 2009

The illegal business of voice over internet protocol (VoIP) based call termination made a rather robust comeback since the assumption of state power by the newly elected Awami League-led alliance government.

The reinvigoration of the illegal telecom business based on the illegal technology has been eroding the market of new legal telecom gateway businesses.

Industry insiders said VoIP based call termination businesses already captured 40 percent of the market of all incoming and outgoing international calls, and the illegal entrepreneurs are already boasting their invincibility to regulators.

“They are even swaggering, saying we can’t do anything to them under the regime of a partisan government,” said a high official of Bangladesh Telecommunication and Regulatory Commission (BTRC).

The official, who is also involved in an anti-VoIP drive of the commission, said unscrupulous VoIP traders, who were laying low during the two-year of the immediate past caretaker government’s regime, are back with renewed insolence.

International call termination through illegal channels was one of the much talked about issues over the last two years, as the telecom regulator was carrying out a massive drive against the illegal technology users.

Along with many internet service providers, multinational mobile phone service operators were also caught red handed while using the illegal technology.

BTRC recently awarded six licenses to the private sector to handle international voice and data traffic.

Among the six call handlers, three international gateways (IGW) are mainly responsible for handling international voice calls along with the state run Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL).

Two other legal interconnection exchanges (ICXs) transmit the calls between the IGWs and telecom operators, while the lone private international internet gateway (IIG) is responsible for handling data traffic.

The three new IGWs were handling 12 million minutes of calls a day while BTCL was handling 20 million, till December 2008.

But the numbers nosedived in January as illegal VoIP operators made the comeback.

“Around 40 percent of the calls are now being handled by the black marketers,” claimed Mir Nasir Hossain, chairman of Mir Telecomm, one of the three legal IGW operators.

He said international carriers also expressed their concerns over the recent significant rise of illegal VoIP businesses in the country.

VoIP is a technology that allows someone to make voice calls using a broadband internet connection instead of any phone line.

For its affordable business features, VoIP has become one of the most lucrative businesses in Bangladesh.

Unscrupulous people ranging from IT professionals to entrepreneurs and political party backed young individuals are getting involved in the illegal business.

According to the anti-VoIP team of BTRC, anyone can launch a VoIP service by spending only Tk 2.5 lakh, which might cost some more depending on the volume of the VoIP exchange.

In terms of tariff, VoIP calls are cheaper than traditional phone calls as well. According to the licence agreement, IGWs are charging 4 cents for handling each international call, while VoIP black market price is at most 2.5 cents on an average.

The Bangladesh market is very lucrative for VoIP operators, as around 6 million Bangladeshis live abroad, and the number has been increasing by the year.

The issue of illegal VoIP business became very important to the government, as due to the use of the technology the government is losing a large amount of revenue.

Legal telecom operators also came forward to help BTRC and law enforcers in routing out illegal VoIP businesses, since they feel they have been getting a bad rap as VoIP based telecom services cannot operate without their collaboration.

Representatives of legal telecom operators yesterday at a meeting with the BTRC chairman made the commitment. BTRC also took a plan to strengthen its drive against VoIP businesses.

“If mobile phone service operators come forward to help, it will be easier to stop illegal VoIP businesses,” said Manzurul Alam, the chairman of BTRC, assuring that the regulatory commission will continue to play its role, like it did through the two years of caretaker regime.

Source: Daily Star


1 Response to "Illegal VoIP trade back in Bangladesh: Captures 40% of int’l calls"

i want to start the voip business in bd from chittgong .
now i don’t know how to start that.
could you give me some suggestion for doing that?

chittagong university
dept. of sociology

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