Regional authorities weigh up anti-VoIP solution

Incumbent telecommunications providers and regulators across the region are in talks with the British creator of VoIP blocking systems, Bitek, with the aim of buying the firm's 'Guardian' solution and putting a stop to unauthorised internet calls.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  January 3, 2006

Incumbent telecommunications providers and regulators across the region are in talks with the British creator of VoIP blocking systems, Bitek, with the aim of buying the firm's 'Guardian' solution and putting a stop to unauthorised internet calls. According to Bitek International's president and CEO, Graham Butler, the UAE's regulator the TRA (Telecommun-ications Regulatory Authority) and the incumbent telecom-munications providers of Qatar and Kuwait (Qtel and the Ministry of communications respectively) are all in discussions with the company through its regional representatives. “Agency groups are, on our behalf, talking to the regulator in the UAE,” Butler told Windows, “and we're also talking to the authorities in Kuwait, Qatar, and possibly Oman too, about deployment of our system.” Bitek's multi-million dollar Guardian system works by monitoring an IP network's activity and blocking any activity - such as voice calls - that the system's owner has declared unlawful. “Guardian has 20 or 30 separate signatures or settings, which gives a telco for instance the flexibility to determine exactly what type of usage is allowed,” Butler explained. “If an organisation wants to block any form of VoIP for instance, Guardian will monitor all the data traveling over a network and simply block any relevant voice traffic,” he added. Taking the example of the UAE, Butler claimed that the deployment of Guardian could help Etisalat boost its revenue figures by quashing the revenue lost from unauthorised VoIP use. “I would estimate that this organisation loses US $100 million per year just from grey voice traffic providers. This isn't necessarily about single users using Skype, but more about stopping those shops that operate on a larger scale to offer cheap calls abroad over the internet.” None of the authorities in question were available for comment. In the UAE, a second telecommunications operator is due to begin operating later this year, at which point this provider and Etisalat itself are expected to begin rolling out their own VoIP services to end users.

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