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Old April 11, 2007, 05:50 PM
imtiaz82 imtiaz82 is offline
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Opening up VoIP to pvt sector
awaits chief adviser’s nod

Zahedul Islam A proposal for opening up VoIP or internet telephony to the private sector for an interim period through the submarine cable gateway to facilitate cheap overseas calls is awaiting the nod of the Chief Adviser’s Office.
Officials of the posts and telecommunications ministry said they had sent the proposal to the Chief Adviser’s Office in the first week of April, with a set of recommendations made by a government committee, seeking permission from Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed to issue Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) licences to private operators.
A seven-member committee headed by Saiful Islam, a professor of the BUET, in March recommended that private operators should be allowed to route their VoIP traffic through the existing data transmission gateway of the submarine cable for an interim period until the state-owned Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board completes the setting up of its VoIP platform.
The nine recommendations also included allowing private operators to set up VoIP platforms in addition to the one planned by BTTB, increasing the capacity of BTTB’s international voice circuit, exploring the possibility of joining another undersea cable as a back-up for SEA-ME-WE-4, setting up a technical monitoring committee comprising officials of BTTB and intelligence agencies, and punishing illegal VoIP operators.
The government in February formed the committee to suggest various options to immediately open up the VoIP for a temporary period as overseas communications faced a severe setback following raids by the Rapid Action Battalion on dozens of VoIP outfits this year to stop illegal business in Bangladesh.
The Chief Adviser’s Office, however, questioned the ministry on how much it would take for the BTTB to set up four VoIP exchanges in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and Bogra to route and monitor the VoIP traffic to ensure that the government would earn its due revenue from the sector.
‘We have answered all queries and hope to open up the VoIP within the shortest possible time once the chief adviser approves it,’ said a senior official of the telecom ministry.
The BTTB has also started installing the necessary equipment for augmenting the capacity of the data transmission gateway to pave the way for opening up the VoIP, also referred to as IP telephony or internet telephony, for the interim period.
The VoIP, a technology that enables transmission of voice data in a digitised packet through the internet, remains illegal in Bangladesh as the government did not issue licences to private operators although Khaleda Zia’s cabinet approved the legalisation of internet telephony in November 2003.
According to various estimates, the state-owned BTTB, which alone has the authority to provide overseas calls, loses about Tk 600 crore a year in revenue because of illegal IP telephony

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