In middle of severe opposition from Competition Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and Ministry of Information Technology today lead the LDI operators to implement International Clearing House (ICH) from today.
It maybe recalled that ICH will streamline all incoming international traffic through a centralized gateway (operated and maintained by PTCL) through which all LDI operators will share the revenues for international incoming traffic based on their current market share with fixed termination charges.
However, PTA – backed by Ministry of IT – went ahead with the plan and ICH is principally considered operational starting today.
All public listed companies have notified their shareholders (and stock exchanges) of their participation in ICH regime.
Call Rates to Pakistan Increase
Move, which is said to eliminate gray or illegal traffic coming to Pakistan, has increased call pricing for those calling to Pakistan from abroad. Calls from USA to Pakistan are likely to be charged at as high as 16 $cents per minute, up from 4-6 $cents per minute charged before ICH implementation.
We are receiving reports from all over the world indicating that rates for calls to Pakistan increased by 300 to 800 percent, depending on respective state and network.
Skype has also increased per minute charges for calls to Pakistan, which is now charging 14.5 $cents per minute as standard tariff. Skype has also taken back special calling plans (bundles) that it used to offer for Pakistani calls.
According to industry experts, monthly incoming international traffic to Pakistan is around 1.5 billion minutes per month, which will translate into US 120-150 million dollars of increased burden on Pakistani expats for making calls to Pakistan.
Economic impacts are yet to be fully calculated with the implementation of ICH.
Can CCP Block ICH?
Technically speaking Competition Commission of Pakistan can’t bar PTA from implementing ICH.
CCP as a anti-competition body can’t restrict the government from implementing any policy, such as ICH in this case. This doesn’t come under CCP’s mandate to issue show-cause notice or to penalize a government body, such as Ministry of Information Technology.
Legal experts tell ProPakistani that CCP’s laws have been violated through a MoIT policy directive (upon which ICH is being implemented). Breach of CCP’s laws can’t be justified with an MoIT policy directive only, instead a legal framework or legislation is required to compensate CCP’s legal obligation.
However, at the same time, CCP is not entitled to issue show-cause notice to a government body to cap it from issuing a policy directive. Hence there’s no way it can restrict private companies from implementing ICH, which is covered by a policy directive.
The only way left behind to challenge ICH is by filing a lawsuit against the implementation in the courts, which can be done by any individual or a company. But we will have to see if that happens. Reportedly, no individual or company is yet ready to go legal against the implementation of ICH.
Karachi Stock Exchange notices for Implementation of ICH: