It’s possible only in Bangladesh

Posted on May 21, 2010  /  8 Comments

Bangladesh government will issue 3,000 – that’s right, three thousand – international gateway (IGW) licenses, said and the Daily Star. The telecoms secretary would not disclose the “official” fees per IGW license at this stage. But he believes up to US$3,600 of CAPEX will be required for each gateway. Evidently the authorities perceive IGW some sort of a cottage industry.

There are four (one public + three private) international gateways in Bangladesh. The military rulers ended public monopoly and issued three private IGW licenses during 2007-08. The telecoms secretary said the junta had cooked up that international licensing regime bypassing the government.

As a result the illegal call terminators kept on poaching the legal traffic. In a symbolic gesture, the government has recently shutdown five PSTN operators for illegal overseas call termination. Yet it remains business as usual. Now the government has planned to dish out thousands of IGW licenses to overpower the culprits.

The military government’s international gateway misadventure has predictably failed, as a flawed policy was its foundation. The democratically elected government’s crackpot ideas of throwing away 3,000 IGW licenses will be equally futile. Because public consultation has been brushed aside in both the cases.

It’s possible only in Bangladesh.


  1. Just imagine if under the proposed amendments in Bangladesh Telecom Actm powers of licensing, tariff and new services, given to this Ministry of Post & Telecom, what kind of wise decisions it will make.

  2. Very misleading post… The news article NEVER stated the Govt will hand out 3,000 international gateway (IGW) licenses. Instead it said the Govt will hand out 3,500 licenses to voice over IP (VoIP) network operators. There are thousand of illegal VoIP operators in Bangladesh, if they have an avenue to legalize their business model; neither you nor I should have any problem with that. There are probably tens of thousand of VoIP (ex. Vonage) operators in the USA that provide solely VoIP without owning any long-distance infrastructures. Sure then in BD’s case 3,500 isn’t a lot.

  3. anybody cared to check the draft international gateway (IIG) licensing guideline? i think its a gross violation of privacy and net neutrality and freedom .it gives a god like power to the govt. looks like the policy is focus around an empire, not people.

  4. @ Amar
    IGW and VoIP are synonymous in Bangladesh. Thanks to the concerted ignorance of politicians, bureaucrats, journalists and academics. Therefore, VoIP in Bangladesh doesn’t attribute to what it is in the USA or elsewhere. My opinion reflects all the three news links embedded in my post. Vonage-like services cannot be provided in horribly regulated markets like Bangladesh. There is, however, no harm to be optimistic.

  5. @ Amar
    Abu Saeed is right, in Bangladesh International Gateway (IGW) or International Telephony is commonly known and termed as VoIP. What you are talking about is IPTSP (IP Telephony Service Provider) in Bangladesh (for domestic calls only) and only data service providers are eligible to get IPTSP license and I am sure data licenses are not 3000 in number.

    According to the revised ILDTS Policy 2010, the intenational calls of all IPTSP shall be routed through first ICX and then IGW for both international outgoing and incoming traffic. The Policy further clarify that no licensee including IPTSP shall bypass IGW for international telephony. If you still have doubt, visit website of BTRC or wait for few days.

    By the way, Abu is a well respected regional telecom analyst and an authority on Bangladeshi regulatory regime.

  6. @Aslam

    Then I am sure the news article misquoted or the Minister/Official who spoke about giving 3500 licenses actually meant licenses for IPTSP will be giving. Anyways there shouldn’t be any fixed number of licenses for such service as the operators are not constrains by limited resources like cell phone operators are with spectrum. A large number of starting operators somewhere in the thousands is probably be best way to go.

  7. @ Amar

    Entirely in agreement with you, wherever sacrce resources are not involved, especially spectrum, licensing should be open to all with minimum eligibility criteria. Pakistan is a good example in the region where Local Loop (LL), Long Distance International (LDI) and class licenses (both data & voice) are open with no limit to numbers of licenses.