No free talking


Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission is going to develop a guideline on using communication tools like WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat and Imo that have cut international incoming calls, BTRC Chairman Shahjahan Mahmood said yesterday.

“Hopefully, we will be able to make the guideline public in two or three months,” he told reporters at a press conference at the BTRC office.

Mahmood said the communication applications were also responsible for the decline in international call termination via the legal channel.

Two years ago, the volume of daily incoming international voice calls was around 123 million minutes which has now come down to 70 to 80 million minutes, he added.

“Not only illegal call termination through VoIP, but the mass use of OTT [over-the-top] apps is also responsible for the decline in international call termination via the legal channel,” he said.

“The volume had increased after slashing the rate to 1.5 cents per minute from 3 cents at the end of 2014, but it dropped again after the rate was hiked to 2 cents.”

After hiking the rate of call termination last year, some calls went to gray route, Shahjahan said.

The BTRC is now researching relevant rules and regulations of other countries on this issue, he added.

Earlier, the government had blocked different communication applications at different times due to security reasons.

The telecom regulator and the Post and Telecommunications Division jointly arranged the meeting to brief journalists about the present status of “illegal international call termination” in the country.

According to recent media reports, state-owned mobile phone operator Teletalk is involvement in illegal international call termination or VoIP.

Post and Telecommunications Secretary Fairzur Rahman Chowdhury, also the chairman of Teletalk Board of Directors, said as a state-owned entity, Teletalk was not shown mercy for any illegal activity.

He said if anyone is found involved in VoIP using SIM of any operator, including Teletalk, the operator concerned would be held responsible for the crime. “The BTRC will not show any mercy to it.”

The BTRC had fined Teletalk over Tk 14 lakh for illegal international call termination.

About the unpaid penalty, the secretary said: “Although Teletalk is a government-owned organisation, it has to pay penalties like any other private companies. But if it fails to do so, can adjust the financial debt with the government.”

He said making profit was not the Teletalk’s main objective, rather it needs to serve the people without incurring loss.

BTRC Vice Chairman Ahsan Habib Khan, its other commissioners and high officials were present.

Although State Minister Tarana Halim was not present at the press conference, her office staffs were there.

Sources said she forced the telecom regulator to organise the press conference even on the weekend to protest some media reports.

Source; The Daily Star

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