Several regulatory frameworks have recently emerged to regulate the very modern service of VoIP. Telecommunication services providers worldwide, are on the other hand seeking to make the best use of their networks on both technical and economic levels. Regulatory frameworks vary in different countries, ranging from the total liberalization of service and freeing it of any regulatory supervision as applied in some countries, or issuing various licenses in other countries.
To be able to regulate the service in the best way, the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) has been reviewing the status of the Egyptian market and companies operating in this field.
VoIP service allows for the assembly of voice and data services and their transfer through the operating data networks (public and private) so that telephone calls are transferred through broadband Internet connection by using IP network. Data companies are yet not licensed to provide the service of VoIP. According to article (60) of telecommunications law no. 10 for the year 2003, Egypt Telecom is the only body entitled until 31 of December 2005 to providing services international calls (including, international calls fraud and telephone, fax and telegram services over networks), Data and Internet services may not be included within the aforementioned exclusive right.
The suggested policy in this regard includes: providing new investment opportunities in this field, making the optimum benefit from the infrastructure and the creation of a competitive atmosphere for the Egyptian telecommunication sector.
To implement these policies, some fundamental and general regulations for the provision of this service are needed as follows:
General Regulations for VoIP:
This means using personal computers among the users for telephone calls.
- These services are permissible and do not necessitate licensing from NTRA.
Second, VoIP for internal usage in establishments:
- These services are provided on networks established by some companies and authorities for private purposes. They are not resold to the end user. These companies fill in an application for registration.
- These private companies are connected to one of the licensed public companies.
- The public licensed network notifies the NTRA of the private networks installed pursuant to the law (just a notice). Moreover, these authorities make registrations through NTRA to define the authority, network operator, and the public switch telephone network (ground telephone network).
- These private networks are monitored by the main networks according to the license issued to the latter (Egypt Telecom and data companies).
- This service is provided to data companies (Class A- Class B).
- An appendix of the licenses issued to these companies are added according to the following conditions:
• Service is restricted to clients (individuals or establishments) of such companies.
• A numbering plan shall not be obtained.
• A mobile or fixed telecommunications networks shall not be connected.
• The prohibition forced on the international calls shall be continued until the period of prohibition ends.
• Commitment to establish a Network Operation Center at the company’s own expense.
Fourth, VoIP for the final user inside certain population-gatherings:
- This service is considered one of the Access Services.
- As these networks provide services to the end user, the roll-out (installation) of such networks is subject to regulations and conditions issued by the NTRA concerning the tariff, quality of service, and consumers’ rights.
- The companies permitted to provide such service shall be chosen according to some criteria such as:
• The technical potentials of the company,
• Abidance by the QoS (quality of service) standards
• Alignment of the network with other operating networks.
• The method and cost of connection with the operating networks.
• Numbering system and the potential availability of numbers distributed on a geographical basis.
- This service is provided through one of the two systems:
1- Reselling the service:
- Allowing the company (through an agreement or partnership with the owner whether it is an institution or a company) to resell the service to the end user by getting a discount from Egypt Telecom or any other company licensed to provide fixed services.
- In this case, a license should be obtained from the NTRA.
- The licensee is the competent authority authorized for billing.
- Class license shall be given to every service provider including the population-gathering or the limited region in which the service is re-sold. Upon requesting the annexation of limited geographical regions, the added region is registered and annexed to the same license upon approval of NTRA.
- Telephone calls are terminated on any public network (as Egypt Telecom or any other licensed company), and an interconnection agreement shall be concluded with the interconnected company.
- This system is applied only in case of mega-projects.
The owner of the project should conclude a contract with one of the companies, whose role will be confined upon the installation of the network.
- The end user shall be called to account through Egypt Telecom or any company licensed to provide fixed telecommunications services.
This service is allowed through registration that defines the place, network operator, the public switch telephone network in compliance with what we have previously mentioned in the ‘Second’ item.
Fifth: VoIP for Core Networks:
- On making requests for licensing available for other operators of the fixed networks, technological partiality is assumed (including VoIP networks).
- The new companies operating in this field are selected through further invitation for bidding.
- Criteria for selecting number and status of the companies operating in this field include:
• Technical and financial qualifications of the company.
• The presented solution and the used technology.
• Achievement of quality of service according to the standards set by NTRA.
• Concluding interconnection agreements with the licensed networks (Access-public-international) in order to meet the conditions and treaties of Call origination & Call termination with the licensed service providers.
• Exigency to establish Back up & redundancy system to ensure and secure the continuity of the service in indemnity and emergency cases.
Sixth: International Services & Networks:
- It is the provision of international calls fraud service, and the potential installation and operation of International Gateways to make telephone calls from and to Egypt.
- Service providers shall not be allowed to provide the international services in the present as Egypt Telecom has the exclusive right, by law, to provide this service until the end of 2005.
A separate policy (for these services) shall be set in the future to regulate the licensing of such services.
Seventh, licensing the prepaid cards:
- The current licenses issued to prepaid cards companies are Virtual Operators licenses.
- A licensee has the right to use his smart network of Call Setup, yet has no right to call fraud over his private network by using any kind of technology (VoIP or any other technology).
- International calls fraud is to take place over the network of Egypt Telecom or any other fixed network licensed to transfer telephone calls.