Apex court orders closure of ICH

26 Feb 2015

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the closure of the controversial International Clearing House (ICH), an international gateway established in 2012 to handle all of the nation’s international calls. ProPakistani writes that the apex court ruled yesterday to quash a petition by Long Distance International (LDI) provider Red Tone and consequently the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has ordered all LDI operators to restore their interconnection circuits for incoming international calls. The notice from the watchdog eliminated the Approved Accounting Rate (AAR) and the Approved Settlement Rate (ASR), freeing providers to determine their own pricing for international termination.

As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the ICH was created by the PTA and the Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) in August 2012 as a measure to eliminate the grey market, despite the protests of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP), which pointed out that the policy violated anti-trust rules by restricting competition in the market. Despite several court rulings against the policy and orders from the PTA and MoIT in May 2014 to dismantle the ICH, the closure of the single gateway has been delayed by several years by appeals and petitions from the country’s LDI operators.