Voice over internet: Grey telephony costs public purse Rs800m a month

International calls are re-routed through illegal exchanges to avoid local taxes.

Zahid Gishkori August 09, 2013
International calls are re-routed through illegal exchanges to avoid local taxes.


The government is facing an estimated revenue loss of Rs800 million per month on account of ‘grey telephony’, The Express Tribune has learnt.

“Network operators in Pakistan cannot detect over 70% of illegal telephonic traffic. The state lacks resources to keep the whole telecom sector under the scanner,” FIA Director General Saud Mirza told The Express Tribune.

The authorities concerned have not upgraded the equipment to detect illegal telephone calls on internet (voice over internet protocol or VOIP) which was an additional reason behind the increasing grey telephony, he added.

He said the interior minister had recently sought a briefing over increase in illegal voice over internet traffic particularly since November 2012 due to increase in Approved Settlement Rate (ASR).

PTA officials briefed Nisar Ali Khan on how international calls are re-routed through local — often illegal — exchanges to avoid local taxes because of weak policies, interior ministry officials told The Express Tribune.


A total of 88 joint raids with FIA have been carried out so far across the country since 2009.

PTA spokesperson Khurram Mehran was of the view that PTA provided technical support to FIA to detect such calls. “Yes, it’s true that PTA, due to limited resources, cannot control the whole traffic in the telecom sector,” he told The Express Tribune. One tool available to the PTA, in order to reduce grey traffic, is to reduce the ASR, he added.

Currently, the system for monitoring international voice traffic is only screening 6 % of the total bandwidth and its capacity is decreasing on a daily basis, he said. An official statement by the interior ministry said the cost of the equipment seized in these cases is approximately Rs700 million and the calculated loss averted to the government exchequer is approximately Rs300 million per month.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2013.


Abdul Rahim | 10 years ago | Reply

Technology has given this facility to people, even that also not liked by the Government. What about the satellite phones used by our beloved terrorists?

Imran Nazimabadi | 10 years ago | Reply

@abd When 3G licenses will be issued then obviously govt will allow voip for long distance inbound and outbound calls but for now its illegal while some black sheeps like Rehman Malik etc continue to make big bucks through illegal grey telephony. Once govt will legally allowed it then obviously there will be no incentive or attraction left for grey telephony operators & they'll gradually disappear themselves.

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