Fingers Pointed Towards Interior Ministry for Illegal VoIP Traffic

Once again, Interior Ministry is discussed regarding the increasing value of losses incurred under the head of illegal telecom traffic, which counts as high as USD 25 million per month.

According to Express Tribune, in a recent Public Accounts Committee meeting – all the stakeholders concluded that the interior ministry was a “major player” in the grey telecom market.

This is not the first time that the role of Interior Ministry has been challenged publicly for alleged involvement in illegal telephony traffic.

In a report published by Dawn in June 2010 alleged Rahman Malik, Minister Interior, for running a illegal VoIP telephony network. Report had said that leading beneficiaries of the grey, Rodcom Europe (now being renamed as Hollywell Solutions) was chaired by Rahman Malik. Though, Mr. Malik has denied any such allegations.

Report had linked the hike in approved settlement rates (ASR) with PPP’s government and said that despite the plans of lowering it, PTA increased ASR as soon as PPP joined the government in February 2008.

(for those who don’t know higher ASR means higher charges for international callers to Pakistan – which incentivizes them to find out illegal ways to call Pakistan)

Very next day, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had issued a detailed update to explain how increased ASR helped the industry.

In a relating development recently, suspended member finance has also alleged PTA for hiking ASR and APC without authority’s approval, i.e. without following proper procedures as described in the telecom act of Pakistan.

Analysts say that it’s not a big deal for regulator and law enforcement agencies to curb the illegal traffic, given they have all the technologies available (or at least they had bought it) with them to sniff the data and identify illegal VoIP transmission.

“Suppose, if they say they don’t have the technology to sniff the data, then what are they waiting for? Spend few millions to save many billions”, said an industry expert.

In such a situation if a loss of $25 million per month is happening, then those who are responsible should be held accountable, he added.

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK


  • Saeed

    Amir bhai i just sent you an email kindly check it and post it.

  • ali

    woww , if the govt is going to spend few million , the Voip industry will be spending bilion to find the way to penetrate illegally… technology is not the slave of anyone , but the giant who lifts every sound mind … beside this every1 knows who is in this industry the role of reman malik … and his owned and shared companies.. recently the voip rate for pakistan is dropped to mere 2 cent USD by ptcl which was 3 months back upto 4.5 cent usd … y is this so ??
    and that ASR thing , how it helped gaining more profits an amature in voip industry can calculate …
    who , in the present govt. is enouhg technical and educated to bring all the facts infront of everyone ???? while the govt. owns the PTA and NR3c ..

  • Unkown gunMan

    Well PTA has installed NARUS system on major telecom IPL importer where they sniff the grey and raid on the basis but the question is the people who raid those area are also working under interior ministry :)

    Gunman

  • Ali

    Our govt is not willing to stop the grey traffic otherwise they have tools to reconized the grey traffic……..

  • Ahmed

    @Aamir
    Bro, I lived in Middle East, Instead of promoting llocal licensed VoIP operators (which will give us revenue, will stop Grey telephony, will abolish need of investment in blockage…but in fact we are going backward, with due respect I would like to add a few things:

    1- I don’t like Mr.Minister mentioned but if he is doing a business in UK (where VoIP is legal) he isn’t doing anything wrong as long as his company isn’t terminating illegal traffic to Pakistan (it isn’t proved that his company is doing this, so he can sue for anyone claiming that his company caused loss to Pakistan )

    2- If anyone have heard the name of DellMont and Betamax, they have share of more than 90% of VoIP market and call termination to Pakistan, Mr. Abdur Rehman’s company is no where in the list.

    3- By increasing ASR, PTCL benefitted the most (Etisalat in fact).

    4- By increasing ASR PTA forced Pakistanis abroad to use Dellmont and Betmax services (which are doing legal grey telephony business in their countries) and ultimately money goes to these companies.

    5- If we had Braintel like companies here, overseas Paksitanis were having Pakistani lines abroad (new to you? you can have VoIP US/UK/European numbers in Pakistan, who earns with this? ofcourse companies in those countries )

    6- We killed Braintel, we forced Pakistanis overseas to pay to VoIP operators abroad , and these operators pay nothing to GOP.

    Even a person with little sense can understand how PTA decision actually has harmed our economy, then we demand investment in VoIP blockage instead of giving license to Braintel like companies so our money remains in our hands. Ever imaganed why ASR is almost zero for India ? Why Indian origin legal VoIP companies are coming up ?

    In last I would say, you can run SIP protocol of VoIP even from Google Talk, Yahoo, MSN messenger, there is absolutely no way you can block it. World has accepted and adopting it, we should not follow UAE’s Etisalat practices but in fact we should welcome Pakistan based licensed VoIP companies for Pakistanis abroad.

    • admin

      If you can’t cap it – regulate it and allow it to everyone – which will boost local VoIP companies, agreed!

  • Munnu

    Voip calls are cheap thats y people prefer to call abroad through VOIP as compared to other phones Mobile or Fixed .

  • Nauman Afzal

    I still cannot understand why Govt isn’t allowing VOiP in Pakistan? Its cheap and works, then why not?

  • Unknown

    I think whatever loss is being caused by grey traffic is not big as compared to the loss incurred to the legal industry by this illegal practice. They are forced to sell on rates comparable to grey and are making nothing out of the international termination business. I am sure this industry will default if they pay APC for USF and government’s all deregulation efforts will be wasted.

    We cannot stop grey as nonbody till today has been punished/penalized for involvement in grey traffic. If a cheque of 500 rupees is bounced, punishment is unbailable but a man causing multi-million USD loss is always out of jail on very next day on bail.

    We can take example of Bangladesh if we want to imporve the situation; where they have very strick laws for grey traffic.

  • Saleem Khan

    Look brother…there is no loss for government from illegal VOIP traffic….rather we EXPATRIATES are paying huge cost of calling Pakistan, so indirectly Pakistani Government is earning millions and millions from International In-Bound Calls.

    Pakistan has become the most expensive country in the world, in terms of Taxes on Telecom. In same way, its tariff for international inbound calls are the highest in South Asia. I give you very simple example….Call rate for International Users to Indian number is 4 US cents, for Pakistan it is minimum 18 cents (except few illegal voip companies on world map). In 2007, Pakistan rates were half the India but then as this government came, rates for international calls to Pakistan has increased enormously. Not approximately 4 to 5 times increased…so 500% increase in just few years is point of concern for Expatriates…these Expatriates are main source of Foreign Remittances but in return, Country is not letting any opportunity to hit each and every citizen, either living inside or outside country.

    To be honest, this all is not fair and simply taking away left over loyalty from Expatriates…Where we go…Pakistanis embassies rates for any kind of verification is also too high than any other country…means U can apply for US visa at cheaper rate than applying for Pakistan’s visit visa…is it fair? can we compete in world by such attitude i.e. JUST ROB.

  • I dont know what were people thinking when they voted for PPP and PML-N.

  • mudassir shah

    Brothers… VOIP is illegal in pakistan. voip give million of losses per day.. This money is HARAM..