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Help setting up a VoIP regulatory framework

 
 
Raqueeb Hassan
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      06-21-2007
Hi,

Let's say country "A"s telecom regulatory board is trying to open-up
the voip (call termination) which was branded illegal since long ago.
The new regulatory commission wants to empower the people by
introducing a transparent VoIP regulatory framework with two goals:

a. Cheaper international call rate for the resident of "A".
b. Building nationwide IP infrastructure with local entrepreneurs'
e.g. cable operators, broadband companies.

The country might be as small as New York State, but the estimated
population can be 130 million. More than 60 per cent of the
populations do not have telephone access which is one of the driving
points for legalizing VoIP. The population is so huge that all the
cell phone companies (which still lacks interconnectivity with
incumbent PSTN) are earning record level profit margin. The country is
connected to only one submarine internet backbone. Most ISP's are
using low capacity VSAT's as backup service.

So, if you are asked to help on setting up framework of VoIP
regulation which might help earning revenue for this developing
country "A", what would you do?

If you ask me, here is my plan. Please correct me if I go wrong.

a. Setting up a EMUM server.
b. The ENUM server will resolve all the calls routed inbound for
Country "A".
c. The ENUM server will be connected to a "packet clearing house" for
necessary revenue collection.
d. Minimum entry fee for the service providers, with annually revenue
sharing of 5% (for example) and collected as License Fees.
e. Outgoing calls might not be charged when the system is inducted
initially. The rate is low when compared to incoming calls. The
residents mostly think that the expats will always call.
f. The service providers (PSTN, cell phone, cable companies) should
connect to that "packet clearing house" over IP, and they should own
compatible softswitches for that.
g. International bandwidth sold to VoIP operators will be through that
"packet clearing house". VoIP operators won't be allowed to have VSAT
or IPLC link.
h. Operator should not by-pass IP packet (VoIP/Internet) using any
other path (like VPN tunnels) other than they have registered. DPI
(Deep packet inspection) technology can be utilized should any
operator projects lower revenue as expected.

I haven't thought of MNP, emergency services etc. which are yet to be
implemented in Country "A". I'm not also sure about the
interconnectivity switching solution for legacy SS7 signaling and VoIP
protocols. I saw some of the NGN switches in ZTE and Huawei channel,
but I'm a little skeptical about that. What about Cisco's CRS-1
Carrier Routing System? Does it hold the promise?

Thanks in advance.


--
Raqueeb Hassan
Bangladesh

 
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Tim
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      06-21-2007
Raqueeb Hassan wrote:
> a. Setting up a EMUM server.


Very good idea. Central managed, easy to access, available to anybody.
Suggest run by the government or a very independent organisation.
Maybe with a Nominet like structure.

> c. The ENUM server will be connected to a "packet clearing house" for
> necessary revenue collection.


No idea why you want this at all. It would introduce a point of failure.
Enum is a lookup system, not a packet moving technology.

> d. Minimum entry fee for the service providers, with annually revenue
> sharing of 5% (for example) and collected as License Fees.


Entry to what?

5% of what? Remember that IP is just data. Some service providers
might choose not to meter calls at all and just charge for IP bandwidth.

If somebody is phoning the office next door, why would you want the
packets to go through a central `packet clearing house`? You instantly
introduce a cost here that will stifle use of services.

> f. The service providers (PSTN, cell phone, cable companies) should
> connect to that "packet clearing house" over IP, and they should own
> compatible softswitches for that.


You are mis understanding VoIP here.

> g. International bandwidth sold to VoIP operators will be through that
> "packet clearing house". VoIP operators won't be allowed to have VSAT
> or IPLC link.


You are limiting innovation here.


> h. Operator should not by-pass IP packet (VoIP/Internet) using any
> other path (like VPN tunnels) other than they have registered. DPI
> (Deep packet inspection) technology can be utilized should any
> operator projects lower revenue as expected.


Again, not sure what you are doing.


What you should do, is makesure the backbone bandwidth exists.

1) Encourage building of neutral datacentres in major cities.
2) Encourage cheap and easy fibre links between these. Maybe you should
actually install the fibre and switches, and then sell point to point
links at a reasonable rate.

But don't let these be the only providers. Diversity is good.

2a) Maybe have some of this fibre going to radio towers. To let ISPs
have an easy last mile solution using wireless links.

3) Get another international link, independent to the first one. Allow
carriers to go buy their own point to point links to where ever they
want across this.

4) Make some thing that allows people to dig in their own fibre if they
want to.

Then just see what ISPs come up with.

Hopefully, you will attract a lot of innovative ISPs. Some of these
will offer voice services. Some connectivity, some hosting. Some will
provide wholesale services to other ISPs. Somebody will no doubt come
up with decent voice gateway service for international PSTN.

In summary, once you have a decent IP backbone, everything else is
really easy.


Tim
 
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John L
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      06-21-2007
>Let's say country "A"s telecom regulatory board is trying to open-up
>the voip (call termination) which was branded illegal since long ago.


See Fred Goldstein's excellent response to this in comp.dcom.telecom,
in which he starts by noting that "A" is short for "Bangladesh", and
says the important issues are entirely about the excessive call
termination fees on calls into Bangladesh, and have nothing to do with
VoIP or any other kind of call technology.

R's,
John

 
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Raqueeb Hassan
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      06-22-2007
On Jun 21, 3:45 am, Tim wrote:

<snip>

> > d. Minimum entry fee for the service providers, with annually revenue
> > sharing of 5% (for example) and collected as License Fees.

>
> Entry to what?
>
> 5% of what? Remember that IP is just data. Some service providers
> might choose not to meter calls at all and just charge for IP bandwidth.
>
> If somebody is phoning the office next door, why would you want the
> packets to go through a central `packet clearing house`? You instantly
> introduce a cost here that will stifle use of services.


Tim,

Thanks for the detailed response. I should have clarified little more
about the situation regarding country "A". VoIP (specifically, call
termination) was illegal for really long time. Though it was branded
illegal, but the market wanted it badly, most service providers were
doing it at the backend. Incumbent telecom operator (which was also in
charge of regulatory affair) wasn't sure about how to handle/adopt it;
newly inducted telecom regulatory commission wasn't strong enough to
regulate technological superior foreign phone companies. The call
termination business was on despite the fact that it was illegal and
government of country "A" was losing a significant portion of revenue,
which is of course a huge for a developing nation like "A".

You are right. VoIP technology should be allowed to evolve to hold its
promise. What we are talking about is sharing revenue between
operators and government. Adding 5% of tax on each inbound call, can
pay a big dividend for this poor country. Charging more will obviously
end up users paying more, which is to be avoided in the first hand.

When we talk about sharing revenues, we have to know how operators are
faring in their shooting graphs. We might leave the outbound calls
from accounting, but what about inbound calls delivered to access
layer? How do we do that accounting without DPI?

<snip>

> What you should do, is makesure the backbone bandwidth exists.
>
> 1) Encourage building of neutral datacentres in major cities.
> 2) Encourage cheap and easy fibre links between these. Maybe you should
> actually install the fibre and switches, and then sell point to point
> links at a reasonable rate.
>
> But don't let these be the only providers. Diversity is good.
>
> 2a) Maybe have some of this fibre going to radio towers. To let ISPs
> have an easy last mile solution using wireless links.
>
> 3) Get another international link, independent to the first one. Allow
> carriers to go buy their own point to point links to where ever they
> want across this.
>
> 4) Make some thing that allows people to dig in their own fibre if they
> want to.
>
> Then just see what ISPs come up with.
>
> Hopefully, you will attract a lot of innovative ISPs. Some of these
> will offer voice services. Some connectivity, some hosting. Some will
> provide wholesale services to other ISPs. Somebody will no doubt come
> up with decent voice gateway service for international PSTN.
>
> In summary, once you have a decent IP backbone, everything else is
> really easy.



Thanks for the visionary outlook. It is really helpful. Without
building a nationwide IP infrastructure, nothing pays. We know, people
shouldn't tax newer technology like VoIP which will shape up the
connected future. But so far it was illegal, now all of a sudden we
can't expect things to be free and open, when the policy makers are
really skeptical about it. The technology was abused so far, you have
to give it a time. What if, each of the call goes through some
accounting systems and everyone (operators and revenue board) knows
how much they delivered. Now, share 5% of the earning with government.
Now, you may not brand it as monopoly, because the service providers
will have the liberty to choose their wholesale VoIP carriers, ITSP,
pricings etc.

All I know, the regulatory commission of "A" has to devise some tools,
promoting VoIP by building nationwide IP infrastructure and earn
decent revenue. How do you balance that and get the best of the both
worlds?

Thanks once again.


--
Raqueeb Hassan
Bangladesh


 
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PhilT
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Posts: n/a
 
      06-23-2007
On Jun 21, 3:18 am, Raqueeb Hassan <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> Let's say country "A"s telecom regulatory board is trying to open-up
> the voip (call termination) which was branded illegal since long ago.
> The new regulatory commission wants to empower the people by
> introducing a transparent VoIP regulatory framework with two goals:
>
> a. Cheaper international call rate for the resident of "A".
> b. Building nationwide IP infrastructure with local entrepreneurs'
> e.g. cable operators, broadband companies.


you appear to be drwoning in technical detail.

Is the issue not simply that the regulatory framework should be
technology agnostic - treat fixed line PSTN, VoIP and mobile/cellular
to the same rules ?

Phil

 
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John L
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      06-23-2007
>you appear to be drwoning in technical detail.
>
>Is the issue not simply that the regulatory framework should be
>technology agnostic - treat fixed line PSTN, VoIP and mobile/cellular
>to the same rules ?


Of course. The problem is that Bangladesh sets such high termination
fees that people will always circumvent them if it's at all possible
to do so. Hence all the technical nonsense to try to force VoIP
through points where it can be metered.

The reasonable approach would be to drop the fees to a level that
makes circumvention unattractive, as India has done.

R's,
John

 
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Tim
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      06-27-2007
Raqueeb Hassan wrote:
> Now, share 5% of the earning with government.
> Now, you may not brand it as monopoly, because the service providers
> will have the liberty to choose their wholesale VoIP carriers, ITSP,
> pricings etc.


You are onto a bad thing here.

1) People will always find a way around it to save the 5%. The time
they spend saving the 5% is time they could have spent on getting 20%
extra value out of their systems. You will stifle innovation.

2) The cost of adding up all the call charges and suchline (and the 5%)
will come out to be actually more than it costs to process the calls.

Billing is an expensive operation.

Thus, you have to charge a lot of money for calls to cover the costs of
your billing. On the other hand, operators could say `unlimited calls
for x per month, and then you don't have a billing cost`

Tim
 
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Raqueeb Hassan
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      06-28-2007
On Jun 27, 3:17 pm, Tim <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> Raqueeb Hassan wrote:
> > Now, share 5% of the earning with government.
> > Now, you may not brand it as monopoly, because the service providers
> > will have the liberty to choose their wholesaleVoIPcarriers, ITSP,
> > pricings etc.

>
> You are onto a bad thing here.
>
> 1) People will always find a way around it to save the 5%. The time
> they spend saving the 5% is time they could have spent on getting 20%
> extra value out of their systems. You will stifle innovation.
>
> 2) The cost of adding up all the call charges and suchline (and the 5%)
> will come out to be actually more than it costs to process the calls.
>
> Billing is an expensive operation.
>
> Thus, you have to charge a lot of money for calls to cover the costs of
> your billing. On the other hand, operators could say `unlimited calls
> for x per month, and then you don't have a billing cost`



Thanks for the suggestions. Tough call, how do you do the migration
part from being illegal to free up everything? Do you open up
everything in the next day? Eventually, everything will be free
someday, and we need a migration procedure for that. Think this
framework as a part of a greater migration plan. I always wanted
technology to evolve to it's limit, let alone to regulate; but you
have to consider long list of recent wish lists for a country where it
was illegal since long. Suddenly you can't free up everything. You
might have to balance that up.

Stronger Regulation -----> Moderate Regulation ------> Totally Free.

How about something for which the country "A" can earn some sort of
revenue?

I just wanted to know how other developing countries are doing it. You
might have to consider this country "A" as a developing nation.

You are right. And, all it matters is the correct mindset.

Thanks once again.


--
Raqueeb Hassan
Bangladesh




 
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Tim
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      06-29-2007
Raqueeb Hassan wrote:
> How about something for which the country "A" can earn some sort of
> revenue?
>


Do you not have corporation tax on profitable companies?

Will that not do?



Tim
 
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