PTA says no restriction of VoIP, VPNs for educational sector, businesses

Published March 19, 2020
An employee of the metro service sprays a bus at the Secretariat station as a prevention against coronavirus on Wednesday. — Online
An employee of the metro service sprays a bus at the Secretariat station as a prevention against coronavirus on Wednesday. — Online

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has increased the registration period for mobile phones to 90 days and clarified that there are no restrictions on the use of video conferencing applications for educational institutions or businesses in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus within the country.

All institutions and businesses can use legal Voice over Internet Protocols (VoIP) and Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and video conferencing applications to continue online activities without restrictions and do not need additional permission, the PTA has said, in the wake of questions from institutions about starting online classes.

“All legal VoIPs and VPNs and video conferencing apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, Google Meets, Zoom, Blue Jeans, Cisco WebEx, Team viewer, Meraki VPN etc are available to be used for virtual education and business,” the PTA said.

A senior official toldDawnthere had been confusion among several internet service providers regarding online classes and conference calls for the education sector and businesses.

“There are some business meetings that requires overseas calls too - and it has been clarified that voice transfer facility can be obtained from all the licensed service providers and licensed LDI operators,” the official added.

The Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK) also expressed concerns that the PTA has blockedthe relevant IP addressesand the registration process is difficult.

But the authority denied the ISPAK’s concerns and said voice traffic through illegal means are detected by the PTA’s web management system.

“PTA is only taking action against those using VoIP and VPNs for terminating illegal traffic,” the official said, adding: “All virtual solutions have to be routed through the legal channels which the PTA calls the white list.”

The PTA said that it held a meeting with the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication and the Pakistan Software Export Board on March 17 to streamline the IP white listing process and address stakeholder concerns.

The PTA informed the meeting that its IP white listing regulations were available on its website and requests are processed within 24 hours by the regulator.

“The process for IP whitelisting is simple and the applicant needs to approach its service provider which will lodge its whitelisting request with PTA along with basic technical detail,” the PTA said.

The authority has also extended the period for mobile device registration by a month, bringing it from 60 to 90 days. It said that because of the extraordinary circumstances, the blocking of unregistered mobile set IMEIs that were to be blocked between March 18 and April 18 will now begin from April 19 depending on the due date of each device.

Under the Device Identification Registration Blocking System, all mobile devices connected to local networks using local SIM cards are subject to registration within 60 days from first use on local networks in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2020

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