Bangladesh’s largest mobile network operator by subscribers, GrameenPhone (GP), has agreed to pay a BDT1.68 billion (USD25.2 million) fine from the country’s telecoms watchdog over the provision of illegal voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) telephony. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) uncovered evidence of illegal VoIP operations at GP’s offices in Dhaka in February as part of a wider crackdown on the grey voice market. In a GP press release, the operator admitted it had ‘not actively taken enough measures to prevent the use of its products by some customers for illegally terminating international calls’, and, acknowledging that this had caused the government loss of revenues, it agreed to pay ‘compensation’. The BTRC has also filed similar suits against other mobile operators Banglalink, AKTEL and CityCell, as well as fixed-wireless PSTN operator Bay Phones. In early July the government received USD25,000 in fines from Canadian-owned fixed line licensee N-Tel Communications, which admitted providing illegal international VoIP services, whilst Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) politician and businessman Helal Khan was ordered to shut down the VoIP operations of his ISP Western Network. Further investigations of other telecoms companies are ongoing. The government has announced that it will sell VoIP licences to private operators in an auction later this month.
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