Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and local telecom operators have agreed to establish the much-awaited unified gateway for incoming international calls, according to analysts.
The gateway, International Clearing House (ICH), will converge all international calls to a single technical gateway against the current practice of being handled by 14 Long Distance International (LDI) operators and that too at different rates, says a BMA Capital research note issued on Tuesday.
The largest LDI operator PTCL – with a 50% market share – will lead the technical consortium where the entire international traffic will land.
“The other operators will be allotted fixed quota in total industry revenues based on their respective market shares,” says the note.
The idea is to curb grey traffic and at the same time enhance margins on incoming international traffic.
Once the International Clearing House comes into play, the rates for overseas callers may witness a massive jump as any foreign operator terminating calls into Pakistan would have to pay Rs7.64 per minute (USc8.4/min).
“PTA issued 14 LDI licences of which many have been struggling and some have defaulted on their license and debt obligations in the past. This is a lifeline for small, struggling operators but bigger players may not like an agreement that lets others benefit at their cost. Hence, tussles on quota may create problems in the future,” said KASB Securities in a research note. The entire arrangement is expected to be finalised by May 16.
As the technology and volume of traffic are evolving, the old system has not been able to effectively monitor grey traffic, says the note. On top of that, growing alternative avenues like VoIP in the wake of improving broadband access across the country, would itself offer avenues to shift traffic through legit channels like Skype, adds the note.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2012.