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Monday, August 4, 2008

3 IP telephony licenses for local firms by Oct

The country's telecom regulator yesterday (Sunday) said it decided to issue IP (internet protocol) telephony licences to three local internet service providers by October.
In a meeting with Internet Service Provider Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB), the telecom watchdog also said it already formulated a draft policy to introduce the internet-based telephony that uses the internet protocol's packet-switched connections to exchange voice.
However, the members of ISPAB urged the regulator to introduce IP telephony licences to all ISP licensees within a month.
The decision of the Bangladesh Telecommuni-cations and Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is basically a follow-up of ISPAB's last month reaction. ISPAB had blamed the regulator for delaying the licence issuance process.
"We will introduce IP telephony by October this year," said a BTRC official who attended the meeting and claimed that issuance of IP telephony licences has remained in the BTRC's roadmap of introducing new communication technology in the coming months.
Meanwhile, as per the International Long Distance Telecommunication Services (ILDTS) Policy 2007, the telecom regulator has to issue IP telephony licences to the country's internet service providers.
IP telephony is a general term for the technologies that use the internet protocol's packet-switched connections to exchange voice, fax and other forms of information that have traditionally been carried over the dedicated circuit-switched connections of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Using the internet, the voice calls travel as packets of data on shared lines, avoiding the tolls of the PSTN.
"The introduction of IP telephony will provide cost effective voice facilities along with other unique features that are comparatively expensive to provide by mobile or landline operators," said M A Salam, president of ISPAB.
Compared to other countries, Bangladesh is a late entrant to the world of IP telephony. Worldwide traditional phone technologies are being replaced with IP-based operations.
Salam said in the subcontinent, except Pakistan all other nations are enjoying IP telephony facilities. "The main advantage of IP phone is that it offers low-cost phone service," he said.
The ISPAB president explained that in traditional phone systems, when a number is dialed, a dedicated circuit is established between the two sides. This circuit remains occupied throughout the conversation. It is wastage of resources because nobody else can share the link. As a result, long distance calls are more expensive. But IP telephony eliminates this problem as it uses shared links to route packets to the destination.
Through the IP telephony services, anybody can make international calls. But ISPs need to be connected with international gateways for transferring calls. "We can enjoy IP phone service from any place, where internet access is available", the ISPAB chief said.
According to BTRC, so far a total of 200 ISP licences have been issued, whereas only 70 operators are providing services. Around a million people of the country have internet access.

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