The country’s newly enacted VoIP Service Providers (VSPs) are still unable to deliver its services though more than five weeks have elapsed since the licences were granted.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), starting from March 25, distributed the 841 VSP licences but none of the operators could yet come to agreement with anyone to route their voice calls as no directives have been given to the International Gateways (IGWs).
VSP licensees claimed that they approached all 29 IGW operators but none could provide any solution. Nor did they have the knowledge of when the VSPs will be allowed to avail the services. They also claimed that BTRC is showing negligence regarding the issues.
“The IGW operators are not providing the VSPs connectivity because according to them, they have not been given any directives from the concerned authorities,” Muazzem Hossain, convener of Bangladesh Association of VoIP Services Provider (BAVSP) told the Dhaka Tribune.
He said: “BTRC is now trying to make a guideline about the issue, which is what they should have done before.
“We know the regulator have requested the IGWs for connectivity proposals, later to be revised by them [BTRC], but such a process is time consuming which is what we do not have.”
Rabiul Hossen, owner of Venous Trading and the coordinator of BAVSP, said: “BTRC has done nothing for us yet, though we paid millions in licence fees. Even after obtaining the licence, we still have to sit idle.”
However, ATM Monirul Alam, commissioner of BTRC, said: “We have already identified the problems and had a discussion with the two parties. Now we are trying to make a guideline for both VSP and IGW operators.”
High officials from the engineering and operation division informed that the BTRC have thought of attaching 30-35 VSP licensees under each IGW for connectivity.
They said: “The huge number of VSP licensees is a major problem. If we had granted around 250 licences then both parties could have done business.”
Sources also mentioned that it might take time for all the granted VSPs to become operational.
Earlier, an evaluation committee also recommended that granting 250 licences would be a standard and at best, five hundred licences could be given thinking of the future. But the government approved more than a thousand licences.
BAVSP, on this issue, has expressed their concern and raised a five-point demand.
According to existing guidelines, VSP operators are entitled to receive 5% of the incoming revenue but BAVSP wants to increase it to 15%. They also demanded connectivity as early as possible.
Ten years back, in 2003 a cabinet meeting approved of VoIP services but BTRC took time to issue the VSP licences.
After finalising the guideline last year, they sought for applications from interested entrepreneurs. Some 1,508 applications were submitted within October. Later, BTRC evaluated the applications cleared 1,004 companies for the licence.
BTRC distributed the licences to the organisations who paid the licence fee of Tk500,000 along with VAT and other related dues in February this year. They distributed licences to 841 organisations out of the approved 1,004 as the rest did not clear the fees.