NTA turns screw on illegal VoIP operators

10 Apr 2012

The Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) is moving quickly in a bid to stamp out the practice of internet service providers (ISPs) offering illegal voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) services in the mountain Kingdom. The watchdog holds the requisite powers to annul the licence of any firm found to be in breach of rules where IP telephony is concerned, and claims to have already taken action against five ISPs. A spokesman for the NTA, Kailash Prasad Neupane, says the measures are needed to curb a fast growing problem that is costing legitimate operators in terms of lost revenue. The official says that they have already lost ‘billions’ as a result of illegal VoIP providers which bypass the PSTN to terminate calls. Currently, two ISPs – Global Internet and Global Softnet – are being pursued in the courts over their alleged illegal VoIP activities, said Neupane. ‘All ISPs involved in illegal activities will face action for not abiding by the provisions mentioned in the licence,’ he added. The NTA is also concerned that 21 out of 29 ISPs in Nepal are still defying the NTA’s request that they divulge details of their subscribers for its monthly Management Information Service (MIS) reports.

In a separate development, the NTA has asked a number of telecom service providers to prepare themselves to vacate frequencies that are not currently in use. Kailash Prasad Neupane says that the watchdog has sent letters to local operators warning them of the need to move, following a directive from the government’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The PAC had directed the NTA to not allocate frequencies to any telco ‘without preparing a clear-cut policy for frequency distribution’, he is quoted as saying. Telcos will now be required to surrender any unused frequencies once the NTA has completed a new policy document to reform the domestic market. In short, the PAC is concerned that the current methods of allocating licences are ‘ineffective and inefficient’, and as part of the reforms, it is looking to utilise spectrum efficiently, make bandwidth available to firms that demonstrate they really need it and to reorganise third-generation (3G) mobile spectrum.