VVIPs who get protection from the Special Security Force (SSF) has obtained the license to maintain a high capacity IP telephony service, said sources from the country’s telecom regulator. IP telephony describes the technology that employ the internet for transfer of voice, data and other forms of information which are generally carried by PSTN or land line based networks.
The law enforcement agency, The Special Security Force, which provides physical protection to the president, prime minister and foreign delegates was given the license with retrospective effect last week.
At a regular meeting on 17th November, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) approved the license with 21 ‘E1 connections.’ About 30 concurrent calls can be served at a time with a single E1 connection and the SSF wanted 33-50 E1 connections, stating that it would be required for security purposes of VVIPs.
Currently there are 29 national IP Telephony Service Providers (IPTSP)licenses and 10 zonal licenses, most of which are not in use. The leading IPTSP in the country, BDCOM Online Ltd., captures a majority of the market share with more than 100,000 subscribers. Only 12 of the E1 connections are now in use, of the 15 that are allocated for them.
According to BTRC sources, the SSF is trying to get waiver of all the fees and charges, after having attained the IPTSP license. It will be difficult for the regulator to waive revenue sharing as there are interconnection issues involved, but it could be possible if the government gives up its share.
The SSF will at first run through BTCL’s Interconnection Exchange (ICX) and implement a system for running 1,000-1,500 connections initially and later expand up to 5,000. An IPTSP network has already been set up by the SSF at the Prime Minister’s Office and they will soon construct similar networks at Bangabhaban, the president’s official residence and the Prime Minister’s Gonobhobon.
The existing telecom act does not require a defense force to have a separate IPTSP license but doesn’t prohibit it either. It says security forces, including the army, will not require a license and can make use of the facilities under the existing arrangements. Prior to this, the army applied for an ISP license which is now under the consideration of BTRC. At present, BTCL runs a red telephone exchange for the VVIPs which is always live and completely secure.