Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bangladesh Fines VoIP Providers, including Grameenphone

The country's telecom watchdog fined Aktel Tk 145 crore for its involvement in the illegal use of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) or call termination business.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) in a press release said during recent raids by the law enforces, Aktel's involvement in illegal call termination business was ascertained.
Talking to The Daily Star, BTRC Chairman Maj Gen (retd) Manzurul Alam said, "Aktel has already paid Tk 72.50 crore to the national exchequer." Telekom Malaysia International Bangladesh (TMIB) is the 70 percent stakeholder of Aktel.

Aktel is not alone in paying the government compensation. Earlier, country's largest mobile phone service operator Grameenphone announced it would pay the government Tk 168.4 crore while another major operator Banglalink said they would pay Tk 125 crore.
The BTRC chairman said, "We hope that no telecommunication operator will facilitate any illegal VoIP ventures... No one will be spared if found involved in any capacity in the illegal call termination business."
The BTRC in a press statement yesterday said international call termination to Bangladesh is a licensed service and is currently reserved only for the state-owned telephone operator Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB).
Law enforcement agencies and the BTRC started joint operations on illegal VoIP operators after this interim government took office in January.
Aktel, the second largest mobile phone service operator in Bangladesh, already made a loss in the third quarter, due mainly to the compensation it will pay the government.
However, Aktel's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell sharply due to the government compensation. It also increased customer acquisition costs. In the 2007 third quarter it made an EBITDA loss of Tk 343 crore.
In the 2007 third quarter, Aktel's total revenue rose to Tk 355.7 crore. The number of subscribers reached 70 lakh this year, up 63 percent from last year, according to figures published by Telekom Malaysia (TM).

The TMIB in a statement said, "The company has recently agreed to compensate Bangladesh government for the 'lost revenue' attributed by the misuse of some of TMIB subscribers [Aktel]. The TMIB already paid Tk 72.50 crore out of its total commitment of Tk 145 crore." Before the current caretaker government took control, unauthorised use of VoIP and international call termination was highly prevalent in the country. It said TMIB, as a responsible corporate entity, is compliant with laws of the land and is very much appreciative of the stand and initiative of BTRC in becoming an effective regulatory regime. TMIB's acting managing director Kamshul Kasim said, "We respect where we do business. We would be 100 percent compliant with the laws of Bangladesh."
crore is equal to 100 lakh or 10 million
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