Nepali Times Asian Paints
Interview
"We are a soft target"



Binay Bohra, head of the Internet Service Providers Association of Nepal (ISPAN), which shut down web access nationwide for an hour on Sunday, spoke to Nepali Times.

Nepali Times: Why did ISPAN declare an 'internet banda' on Sunday?
Binay Bohra:
In the past months police have detained or tried to detain directors and employees of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) because they provided internet connections to customers who were alleged to have misused our services for the call bypass racket. This is like holding a telephone company liable for abusive calls, or holding the maker of pressure cookers liable for their misuse as pressure cooker bombs.

But isn't it possible for ISPs to find out which subscriber is using connections for call bypass?
ISPAN sat down with the authorities and explained that the actions of its customers are a third party issue and need to be dealt in the way you deal with intermediary liabilities. The government agencies and police assured us that they would not be detaining ISP owners and staff. But just the opposite has happened. The threat of unwarranted police action has created an environment of fear among ISPs and is hampering our ability to provide services and conduct business.

No matter how and where we put our case and how much we cooperated with the agencies concerned, persecution against us did not stop. We simply want a safe working environment where we don't have to worry about going to jail because one of tens of thousands of internet customers misuses the service.

But isn't stopping the internet a bit extreme?
In a perfect society such action would not be needed. But we obviously don't live in a society where our concerns are heard and resolved. It was about protecting ourselves and our industry against an apathetic government and vindictive telecom operators who are determined to guard their expensive international call business to protect revenues and use government agencies to persecute small operators. We were compelled to take this extreme step out of desperation and as a last resort after exhausting all other options. The culture in our country has become one of protesting through bandas and sadly it has become the only form of protest that works.

But the police say ISPs knowingly allow some subscribers to use connections for call bypass operations?
Call bypass requires internet connectivity and access to the telephone network using mobile SIM cards. People involved in call bypass usually take internet connectivity from an ISP and bulk SIM cards from one of the large operators, Nepal Telecom, Ncell or UTL. When the police raid a call bypass operation, they identify the ISP that provided the internet connectivity and drag that ISP into the investigation.

But why can't you help the police crack down on criminals involved in call bypass?
When we suspect or discover that a customer is involved in call bypass, we pass this information to the police through the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA). We have also taken pre-emptive action to screen high-bandwidth customers. We have improved the customer documentation process. NTA already has web access to ISPs' real time MRTG graphs to monitor the usage patterns of high bandwidth subscribers. So, the accusation that we have not provided data to the authorities is a lie.

Isn't call bypass good for the customer if it is cheaper? Why not just legalise it?
This should be the collective cry of all Nepalis, and it is our demand as well. Large telecommunication companies are charging unjustifiably high rates to poor Nepalis working overseas by making them pay through their noses to call home. Calling Nepal is among the most expensive of all countries in the SAARC region. This is because the big companies refuse to reduce their charges for incoming calls to Nepal. Illegal call bypass operators therefore
have a tremendous economic incentive, and had the rates been lower this activity would be reduced without the need for any police action.

In the meantime, what is the solution?
Just as Ncell and Nepal Telecom are not being held responsible for their SIM cards being misused for illegal call bypass, ISPs should not be held responsible for internet connectivity that is misused by its customers. Why this discrimination against ISPs? Obviously the big and strong have protection and we are a soft target. We are already cooperating. We are tired of living in an environment of fear, and would prefer to surrender our licenses to NTA than continue to work in this environment.



1. Carl
Could it be that the interviewer is asking all the wrong questions to begin with?

When a government allows a communications monopoly in the 21. century then this has to be infringed. But then again a bankrupt country tries to get by.


2. biasre
"Isn't call bypass good for the customer if it is cheaper?".. right on! that's the question every nepali is asking. all this crackdown is just to protect the profits of these 3 telecom companies, and specially of NTC. such law makers are plain moronic to block voip in today's world. just wait till the next generation technologies arrive here, and everybody will be using voip .. just look at all these calls to US via gmail already. NTC is already saying the calls to US via their system has dropped 90%. open market and technologies always win, irrespective of some stupid law-makers.



3. perplexed

If govt and police are really conerned about the country and its people how come they do not do something  about the expensive international call? why only protecting nepal telecom and generating revenue for govt?

Govt resonsibility is first and foremost to its citizens. especially poor nepali who are outside nepal and send remittence money to nepal. instead of forcing them to make expensive call via nepal telecom and other voice monopolies, govt should force Nepal telecom to reduce their intl  calls (its obvious90% calls are made by nepalis from outside nepal). and what about trying to open up voip instead of using force to stop, regressive ??

nepal govt exposed. isps made scapegoat. Nepal telecom happy.



4. Pasu
two thumps up to "BIASRE" no need to say more ....

5. Niranjan Adhikari
This is Nepal where a poor people goes abroad for just Rs 9000 salary. If they need to spend all their money by calling at home .... then this SHIT government should stop to go abroad for those workers. Otherwise it must lower it's cost so that it could be beneficial for all the Nepali people. 
Chinese .... Bangladeshi .... I'd like to personally thank for whatever they did ...... This is a slap for a Telecommunication companies who charged high for their calls !!!
No one is responsible for Nepali People here !!!


6. Daibagya Subedi
My home is in Taplejung and I can't go to internet when I go there during my leave days. NTC dialup so sucks that no one likes the connection. I heard that soon some of the private ISPs are going there.
We should promote ISPs for their growth and healthy competitions. This VOIP case is a way that NTC is playing to stop the growth of private ISPs. If someone mis use their internet for call bypass then THOSE SIM CARD PROVIDERS must be pin pointed and police must be in their way too.
I am in favor of ISPs.


7. Laxman Aryal
This is the country where nothing will happen without strike. While all the petrol pumps have stopped giving fuel then this was not called crime. But when ISPs stopped the browsing. It is blamed as crime.
I will not say the strikes is the good way to listen on demands coz I also could not browse the internet for 1 hour. But this is Nepal and the laws are on the hands of power owners not on the hand of PEOPLE and good leaders.
Police must investigate in detail before taking any steps. Instead of taking the orders from rule maker, better to investigate. 
And I know at last one will win who has power in his hands.
I think there is difficult days coming for ISPs.


8. ani..

चोरले चोर्न पाउनु पर्छ र लुट्नेले लुट्न पाउनु पर्छ भनी आन्दोलन !!

Yo kasto aandolan ra mag ho, sabai chor harulai Tudikhelma lagera kalo muso dalera ghumaunu parney .........

Gadha kahiley pani dudh le nuhayera Gai bandaina .... thaha pairakhes ISP ka Sahu haru ley ........



9. Keshav

NT is the biggest fish in the pond. Government is always helpful towards NT.  Nepalis ISPs could have flourished long time ago had NT agreed to provide its copper for private ISPs. If NT only shared its tower across rural Nepal, ISPs could penetrate rural market.

Legalize incoming VOIP too. Convert ISPs in to VOIP telephony providers legally. Otherwise the future of Nepalese ISPs is bleak. There will be few big sharks (Telcos) left and we will be forced take whatever they offer.

People found guilty should be punished but it should be fair. There are ISPs who are supplying bandwidth for VOIP but there are ISPs that are in healthy profit without supplying bandwidth for VOIP.

Police wants to bring bigger ISPs into picture because it serves two purposes; limelight and possibility of brokering a financial deal.

People who have robbed billions of ruppes in Tax are walking free whereas people who have earned few millions through bandwidth selling are kept in 24 days custody and at the end of the day, they are acquitted because there was no any evidence.

This is clearly harrassing the private players.

Lower incoming rate. What expense is there in incoming calls for telecoms it should be as cheap or if not cheaper than domestic calls. Why charge high, just because our diasporas overseas get paid in dollars and pounds.

Shame on you NT and government. NT should lower its rate drastically from Gulf and Malaysia to Nepal, because the poorer strata of  Nepali diaspora get directly benefit from it.

You cannot force millions of Nepalis to pay more for just the sake of profit of few telecoms.



10. Sadharan Janta

Hi, I  and my family are just normal citizens " sadharan jantas" of this country. My siblings live abroad and call us often thanks to affordable calling cards available abroad ( which i think is due to VOIP calls). Thanks to those calls, i am able to keep abreast of all the news of their love, work and personal lives. Had it been for those outrageously  expensive calls ( remember those Rs 100/ minute calls to US) our conversation would have ended in 2 minutes....What i ams trying to say in short is...the giant telecom operators whining about their loss of revenue is not actually theirs...the traffic volume has shot because of cheap calls. Why should sadharan jantas money suffer to make already fat telecom operators even fatter without any benefit to us...

If bypassers can get cheap calls ...me wondering why cants the giant telecoms,....the reason their fat profit margin...point to ponder. However i do not support ISPs shut down of Internet. I hope they dont do it again in the future...

Just want to talk to my siblings....thanks

 

 

 

 



11. Kenji
A quick check of call rates from advanced countries to Nepal and its neighbors shows that it costs twice as much to call Nepal as it does Bangladesh, 4 times as much as to call Vietnam, 7 times as much as to call India, and it is a staggering 20 times more expensive to call Nepal as it is to call China.  On top of all of Nepal's other disadvantages as a destination for job-creating and economy-boosting foreign direct investment (bandas, militant unions, power cuts, poor transport infrastructure, weak legal system, etc, etc), sky-high telecom rates are yet another reason for investors to avoid productive investments in Nepal.

12. niraj
Wow! This man has guts to say that it was/is a correct decision to protest by shutting down a fundamental right of normal people. And the asinine comments of some of the poster reminds us why we are where we are. Emergency doctors go on strike while the patients die; relatives beat up the doctors and destroy the hospital because the of the apparent lack of care and we are stuck in this vicious blame game where no one wants to be responsible but point fingers and shout about their rights.

This is what this man and the commentators are repeating again. He is clearly lying about the things like co-operating with police and doing something about the call bypass. If they were doing it; it surely won't have come down to taking such stupid action as closing down internet. And look what he blames this on; the condition of our nation. So just because most of the sectors are in horrible condition they have to right to do whatever the hell they want to do to earn some quick buck and when the police tries to do the right thing; you guys do not provide the information by saying its a matter of privacy. What stupidity and arrogance!

Yes there are other fundamental issues like the legislation of VoIP, monopoly of certain companies and group. But trying to do the right thing by directly infringing people's fundamental right. You are never ever going to make people believe that you are right; the people will simply hate you and move on to the alternative which is as good or even better then your, to put it mildly, shitty service. A private company of all should know the importance of customers and their satisfaction but I guess their only customer they care about is their fat cat call bypassers who must have paid heftily for the badwidth rather then the oblivious 128kbps who wont say a word even though they get the outrageous 25kBps. And it never seems to get any better.

Shame on you and the people who posted without thinking and with the same old and even rhetorical 'blame the government' attitude. I hope the people will answer to your 'protest' with their purse and hit you where it hurts the most.


13. Akash Dahal

Mr. Niraj (Post no. 12) seems a good "Bhakta" towards government and NT. You talk like an idle man of idle country. Remember brother this is Nepal. Seems like u have spend a lot of times in abroad.
You know one thing if ISPs didn't stopped their net browsing then they have already been in custody and there is not any committee for detail investigation.
6 months before there is a man killed by a embassy car ( can't mention the name) in Hattisar .... and you know what even though the people who saw it live .... Police kept their mouth shut... you know brother this is Nepal. What was the Police/ Government doing at that time ??? Where was your "Police Prasasan" ??


14. Satish

I am glad that Mr. Niraj talked about the fundamental rights of normal people then I must assume that he is also aware of fundamental rights for Business Organization. However, Niraj ji had also accepted about the legalization of VoIP.

 

I've been an Internet user since 1998 and been deeply involved in high tech ever since though it isn't my field. In fact, I started my career at WorldLink just after His majesty's government, stopped the internet service. I clearly remember those horrifying days without communications. Nevertheless as far as I know Telecom cannot go on tapping customer's phone line to know what they are talking about in the same way ISPs also cannot go on check every customer what they are using the service for. I do truly feel regret that ISP Companies had stop the internet service but they were compelled to do so. Including me, others staff of different ISP companies and the promoters where living in a fear that we can be taken into the custody leaving no options ISPAN had to take such huge step.

 

Now, question arises why Nepal government and police are only after the ISP companies? As both BANDWITDTH and SIM card are required to bypass the calls. Why not arrest SIM card providers also? I feel the policies of the government are killing new born babies (New Technology). This has to be stopped we need new technologies which can enhance our way of living style more economic and comfortable.

 

The bottom line is we must not stop fighting for our rights we need free economic business environment in order to develop and prosper which is very essential for any country.

 

Looking at the current scenario I had planned to open the topic on NET Neutrality (Net neutrality is a principle proposed for users' access to networks participating in the internet. The principle advocates no restrictions by ISPs and governments on content, sites, platforms, the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and the modes of communication.)

 

Net Neutrality isn't just another big issue among those currently in front of us � it could be the fundamental issue that defines what type of future we are going to have.  Will it be a future of accelerating innovation and freedom, or will it be dominated by a handful of rich corporations that control what type of information, speech, and conduct will be permitted on their, not our, Internet?

 

This is time for new generation to acquire the knowledge and educate themselves to understand the values of new technologies and science above all to create environment where we can breathe freely........long live freedom.



15. Ashok

It is the great feature on the new type of Banda by the ISP's Association. Look all these manuevours by the bad palyers. Why not support the rule of law in the nation, these ISP people are buck hungry and they know the taste that's why they provide the internet service in a soft way to remain soft. let us check all the profile of 40 Internet service providers in our country. Why the hell our small country need 40 ISPs ? This is obviously clear that they are there for Illegal VIOP things. Let us take the example of other developed countries like UK, AUS they have very low no of ISPs that do the fair business. But in Nepal these mushrooming ISPs are for what? and their reason is the fostering of communication and connectivity democracy in Nepal. Hey!!!!! ISPs do u know how many people use internet in Nepal, and what could be the expected Bandwidth. So the purpose of most of the ISPs are clear that they wanted to run the VOIP Scam under the liscencing of NTA. Yes there is a point on monopoly democratization but Nepal Police and NEpal governtment authority shoul never compromise for these illegal players in the name of ISP Cap. The attitude of the president of ISP is so vivid like paid off by the players.... HAFTA Khana Chhute Jasto chha, Bichara...

The authorities should pay especial attention to not only MRTG things pay your attention on low bandwidth also, as I belive that president of ISP knows who are the once in this game of buck roll over.

Internet is not the property of ISP, it is there for all, if the govt provides permission everyone can have themselves throough the SAT connection, what does govt thinks about it.

ISP shoulnot be the forum to advocate illegal activity and pursue the benefits for it's own purpose only. People are more advance than you are and cannot create the sympathy by closing the internet for an hour dude.



16. niraj
@  Akash Dahal: Typical Nepali commentator with 'ad hominem' attack. This type of comment shows his attitude towards 'discussion'. So you accuse me of being a government stooge; which government are you talking about? And what in my comment makes you think I support the government on this? Why is it that every Nepalese commentator has to blame literally everything the government does? It seems there is always someone who has to protest against the government for doing anything. As for being NT stooge, everyone I know uses Mero Mobile since its network became substantially better. And I used WorldLink for internet since I had a computer. If having a regular telephone line makes me NT stooge then so be it. And again I ask you where have I said anything about Nepal Telecom. Regarding the Sim that is used for VoIP, it is absurd to claim that NT can regulate the Sims as effectively as a ISP can regulate their users. Still I do not claim at all they are the good or bad side. I simply do not have enough information on it so I am just assuming from what I know in general. 

Talking about idle man of idle country. So by your logic, just because everything is in a bad shape in the country,ergo you have the right to break the fundamental rules of the people? There are many ways to protest but denying people fundamental right and saying we did this because we were cornered from everywhere is a blatant lie. I never heard about this issue until I read about the internet Shut-down. Why was the ISPAN making a lot of noise before that? In a country where there are reporter who are ready to statements of fraudsters like 'Unity' group warning of waging a civil war, I bet these ISPs had enough resource to publicize their grievance. But NO, they choose to teach the government a lesson by showing their 'strength'. 

And then you shoot off to some random incident showing the injustice in our nation. And you again use label the police as my? When did I said the Nepal Police is not corrupt and completely inept bunch of stupid people who act tough on the expense of Nepalese people. But that's because of people like you, who when the police tries to do a right thing do everything in their power to jeopardise and derail it because you have something to loose out of it. Again your logic seems to go towards saying because the police is corrupt and full of nepotist idiots; you have the right to take away the fundamental right from the people as protest.  

I don't know if you even cared to read the full post but I am not taking sides here except saying what is blatantly obvious. The way ISPs tried to put dirt on the investigation process by saying they can't monitor their customers and/or can't provide the data because of privacy reasons clearly shows they have something to hide as those arguments are shameful lies they are peddling in the desperate hope of finding some support. 

So if you have some arguments with some sound ground, prove me wrong otherwise don't give me that rhetorical diatribe filled with your 'case studies' of injustice in Nepal. The ISPs have many ways to have their voices heard, they have the court for justice. If they face injustice all over, they have the street but by doing what they are doing, it will be as the old Nepalese saying goes; 'Chokta Khana Lageko Budhi Jhol Maa Dubera Mari'.

@Satish. Indeed there are the rights of an Organisation to do business in a free and open environment. But you have to remember one very important thing when you say that, organisations are not people and the constitution has clearly define the rights of the people. If you have problem with the article/part of the constitution which in turn is the law of the land, you have to try to change it but you do not have the right to shout where is our right while taking away everyone's else's fundamental right. That is nothing but hypocrisy on your part and no person with a sane mind will ever come to your support if you conduct in that manner. 

Net Neutrality is a very good idea and everyone should be educated about it. I am all for it from a long time ago and this is the only way a democratic society can operate but again the means you (assuming you work for the ISPs) are using to try to spread the apparent 'injustice' you are facing at the hands of the police and about the need for net neutrality will never ever succeed in winning people. You guys must be thinking well maoist killed so many people yet people still seem to support them as a way to shove it down the people's throat but I guess I won't have to tell your the difference between a political party that had/has a lot of fear factor on the people and an ISPs who rely off the people. 

But then again, your 'uprising' has made most people I know think that all these people care about are those fat cats like the possible VoIP users and those hotels whose internet you didn't outed. I guess its like this for you;

All internet users are Equal, some more so then others.


17. GP Rai
Liberalize inbound voice traffic and all spare us all this drama. We want cheaper rates to call home. It costs  me 10 times more to call home than someone calling China or India.  Why should we pay more to insure that the telecom makes more money?

Another things, why jail the ISPs? Why not jail the directors of the telecom companies every time their SIM cards are used in illegal bypass operations?? 


18. GP Rai
Liberalize inbound voice traffic and all spare us all this drama. We want cheaper rates to call home. It costs me 10 times more to call home than someone calling China or India. Why should we pay more to insure that the telecom makes more money?

Another things, why jail the ISPs? Why not jail the directors of the telecom companies every time their SIM cards are used in illegal bypass operations??


19. Privacy Nepal
This is totally mess. As we know the INTERNET RIGHT is a HUMAN RIGHT and it is now becoming the fundamental right of people. So Why does ISPAN shutdown internet for an hour. This is completely disgusting. VOIP is illegal in Nepal and the ISP's should follow the law of the country.

Government has the right to investigate the wrongdoing inside the ISP's, if there is any. But the message that the ISPAN is flowing internationally is that "the Nepal Government is trying to shutdown the ISP's". And this is very wrong. I didn't see that Nepal government will shutdown the ISP's.

But it is the ISP's who are breaching the internet right of the people by shutting down internet.

This is shame on ISPAN and ISP's


LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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