Bahrain clamp on rogue Net phone firms
Manama, October 3, 2010
Bahrain has launched a crackdown on rogue Internet-based services offering cheap international phone calls.
Our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN) learned yesterday that at least two unlicensed websites selling cut-price voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) calls could be banned.
The sites are used by hundreds of Internet shops that provide low call rates to customers, undercutting the cheapest available on a variety of calling cards, said sources.
The crackdown comes following a Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) directive to Internet service providers (ISP's) to block two other similar websites because they were not licensed last Thursday.
The TRA is also considering blocking a 'master website' based in the UK, said sources.
It offers VOIP services and is used by other smaller operators to sell their services.
Sources said efforts were now underway to physically screen all those offering cheap services through various unlicensed websites so they can also be blocked.
A TRA official yesterday said the websites were banned for not following Bahrain's telecom law, but would not confirm whether action would be taken against more sites.
Meanwhile, a calling card company official, who did not wish to be named, said it was also looking at providing the TRA with information about such websites.
'The Internet shops use these to offer call rates lower than ours and this affects our business,' he said.
'If these websites are banned or blocked, we can then step in and offer these services to these Internet shops.
'We may not be able to match the rates but will come very close to matching them.'
The official said that in the end, such businesses may not be able to sell cut-price services but could be allowed to offer them 'very close' to what was available through calling cards.-TradeArabia News Service