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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Govt cites security in local VoIP ban

Govt cites security in local VoIP ban

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The ministry’s decision does not apply to overseas VoIP calls, but one ISP warns a ban would be across the board.

Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications bars voice over Internet protocol use among local mobile phones amid claims criminals are using the technology to elude detection

THE Ministry of Post and Telecommunications has told the Kingdom's Internet service providers (ISPs) to block Internet calls to local mobile phones "for security reasons".

The ministry said that the ruling on Internet calls, known as VoIP, or voice over Internet protocol, is effective immediately but does not apply to calls made using VoIP to phones outside Cambodia or to incoming overseas calls.

Chem Sangva, the ministry's director general of inspection, told a joint meeting of the General Commissariat of National Police on Friday that VoIP could cause problems in tracking criminals.

"You are offering criminals the chance to elude the authorities using these kinds of services," he said of the ISPs. "[They] enter the code 855 and then can place calls to [local] mobile phones through the gateways 001 and 007. How can we find them?"

Chem Sangva said the routing of calls was confusing the authorities.

"So please, use VoIP solely for calling overseas and not for domestic calls ... and don't let it recognise this code [855]," he said.

However the head of one ISP said a ban is unnecessary since they already keep track of where calls originate.

"If one of my customers uses my VoIP service and calls to a specific number then we know which customer made the call [and whom they called]," said Sok Channta, president and CEO of AngkorNet, a local VoIP provider.

And Sok Channta warned that any block on routing would also cut off all international calls made through VoIP.

The ministry said it has also banned mobile operators from allowing their customers to call competing local networks using the operator's own international gateway.

The service was introduced because some local operators made it difficult for competitors' clients to call their network.

"This kind of service is contrary to the ministry's principles, so we forbid you from doing this," said Chem Sangva. "When there's a crime, it is hard for authorities to find the criminal."

Som Kongkea, corporate affairs officer at Star-Cell, said his company had in the past provided that service to help its clients connect to Mobitel.

"Our customers found it hard to call 012 numbers, so we set up the international call facility," he explained. "But because [Mobitel] made it easier to connect calls we stopped that service."

In its third ruling, the MPTC said mobile operators must change all short codes starting with 117, 118 and 119 because those interfere with the new national emergency services dialling codes.

The MPTC's Chem Sangva gave the example of an operator that has a short code of 1199 to download a song. Because some clients neglect to dial the last digit, their call gets routed to the emergency services.

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