Thursday, June 18, 2009

ISPs, PTA lock horns over illegal VoIP …

Pin It By Muhammad Yasir KARACHI: The Internet Service Providers (ISPs) has asked Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to establish its own mechanism to detect Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) with their funds deposited in various accounts.

The Internet Services Providers of Pakistan (ISPAK) has played down PTA directives asking them to set up expensive systems for the detection and monitoring of illegal voices traffic available unlimited on internet. Recently, the PTA asked ISPs to detect and monitor all sorts of voice over traffic and internet protocols recently for the safeguard of other telecommunication sector.

ISPAK Convener Wahajus Siraj said PTA has invested a huge amount of operators’ contribution for installation of such a facility and this matter has to be tackled by PTA itself instead of passing on additional burden on ISPs. He said the ISPs could install the VoIP monitoring and mitigating facility if PTA provides funding for such a facility as the industry is already in debt due to selling below the costs and anti competitive practices. There are more than 50 ISPs operating across the country. As per policy, they contributed 0.5 percent of their revenue to Universal Service Fund (USF); 0.1 percent on the account of Research and Development and hundreds of thousands of fee charges for renewal of licences. ISPs cannot take any action against any customer doing illegal VoIP as they are lacking statutory powers to do so, he said and added that if PTA informs of illegal activity done by any customer to the concerned ISP, the ISPs’ action can only be limited to locking that customer’s account and providing customer details to PTA.

ISPs also termed PTA’s action of blocking the IP addresses on internet gateways without any prior notification and evidence as insufficient. They said they had been suffering badly, which has been brought to the notice many times in recent past to the regulator.

PTA has its automated blocking of IP addresses that carry illegal voice traffic that is termination and/or origination of voice packets in a bid to check grey traffic flowing into the country

On the other hand, Chairman PTA Dr Muhammad Yaseen told Daily Times that setting up of VoIP system is not a rocket science that could not be done by ISPs without the assistance of authority.

They only need to install software on their network to block illegal traffic of voices, which they are reluctant to do, he said adding that there are scores of culprits violating authority’s law under the very nose of ISPs. Dr Yaseen added that the authority has warned all the ISPs again and it has decided to conduct massive operation against all the illegal traffic users as per prescribed laws.
He further said the ISPs should cooperate with the authority to stop illegal practices instead of supporting users’ violating watchdog’s laws.

PTA announced publicly that all (registered) call centres should provide their IP addresses to PSEB to make sure that their voice traffic is not blocked. Since the inception of technical facility in May 2008 at the PTA, the IP addresses found to be involved in illegal activities were being blocked manually and in the process, over 14 million minutes (worth around Rs 100 million) have been saved on monthly basis. Now these would be automatically blocked if any IP, not authorised to carry voice is found doing so. Under the current policy, only LDIs and international call centres are authorised to carry voice across national boundaries.

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