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EghtesadOnline: The largest privately-owned Internet Service Provider, Shatel, has gone on the offensive against the state telecom company, the Telecommunications Company Iran (TCI), over its recent Internet-based telephone service.

Shatel launched its Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service on December 26. Three days later without prior notice TCI barred Shatel subscribers from calling regular landline phones through Shatel’s VOIP service, ICT Press reported.

Shatel filed a complaint with Iran’s Communication Regulatory Authority (CRA) which functions as the ombudsman to the industry.

Following the complaint, TCI issued a statement claiming “TCI is yet to reach  a deal with private companies to determine costs and payment methods for the establishment of VOIP services. As such, TCI is not yet legally eligible to offer access to its network.”

According to Financial Tribune, the state-owned company also said “the earlier granted connection was part of the pilot phase to gauge the capacity of the existing infrastructure.”

TCI’s stance was soon followed by a statement from Shatel censuring  TCI claims as “unreal” and its approach, “unprofessional”, branding the acts as “killing competitiveness” and “a violation of citizens’ rights”.

Recalling the latest CRA regulation on Fiber Channel Protocol services (FCP), Shatel said, “According to the CRA regulations either parties involved in offering VOIP services must inform CRA prior to terminating the mutual connectivity and wait for the national organization’s ruling before proceeding.”

Shatel also claimed that the CRA ordered the commercial launch of the service in response to the TCI claim that the service is in the pilot phase.

CRA issued a 24-hour deadline on December 30 obliging the TCI to reestablish the mutual connectivity but the state company refused to comply.

Financial Tribune contacted Shatel for comment. It was unable, or probably unwilling, to provide details.

TCI has not yet responded to Shatel’s comments on January 3.

When the connection was initially terminated local offices of TCI were claiming that it was due to a technical problem. Eventually, the CRA informed Shatel that TCI had terminated the connection arbitrarily without prior notice to the ISP.

While CRA is endeavoring to boost privatization and competitiveness in the rapidly expanding information/communication sector, TCI is holding steadfast to its monopoly on telephone lines, deterring moves against its grip on the market.

Shatel is one of several companies trying to offer VOIP and telephony services to domestic and commercial users. The ongoing debacle between the two sides could hamper further deregulation in the market.

TCI Iran Telecommunications Iran Internet Shatel Internet telephone