At last – Bangladesh issues VoIP licences

6 Aug 2009

After several years of delays, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has announced that it has begun issuing voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) telephony licences to internet service providers (ISPs). Local newspaper The Daily Star quotes BTRC chairperson Zia Ahmed as saying that the first batch of 32 VoIP concessions will shortly be followed by more licence awards, and that the first services will appear on the market ‘soon’. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database notes that to qualify for one of the new 15-year IP telephony service provider (IPTSP) licences, ISPs must meet a series of minimum pre-requisites, for instance a Nationwide and Central Zone IPTSP concession requires an ISP to have 2,000 existing customers. IPTSP concessions cover international and domestic voice calls over internet and/or managed IP-based networks, including phone-to-phone, PC-to-PC, PC-to-phone and phone-to-PC. It is thought that up to 200 illegal VoIP providers are currently operating in Bangladesh, chiefly connecting incoming international calls from pre-paid card users, mainly via VSAT links. The use of VSAT for voice services is not permitted under the IPTSP regulations.

Talking to the Star, M A Salam, owner of Agni Systems, an existing ISP which offers WiMAX-based services, said the introduction of IP telephony will provide cost-effective voice facilities along with other unique features that are comparatively expensive for mobile or landline operators to provide. Nearly 200 ISP licences have been issued in Bangladesh, but only around 70 licensees offer commercial internet access services.



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