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Thousands of Teletalk SIMs used in illegal VoIP business

Published : Thursday, 16 September, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 321
Shaikh Shahrukh

Thousands of Teletalk SIMs are being used in illegally routing international calls through voice over internet call (VoIP) even after SIM biometric registration.
A retailer of the state mobile phone operator Teletalk has reportedly registered 14 SIMs in the name of a customer in just 24 hours. But the number of the remaining 13 SIMs has the same serial and registration time.
The investigation found that those SIMs had been used in illegal VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) business.
An investigation report by the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) revealed that Teletalk was offering illegal VoIP business opportunities in various ways in countries.
It has come to the notice of BTRC that retailers are selling huge amount of SIMs without any sort of verification with the help of the department concerned of the company.
The day after the SIM used in the illegal VoIP was caught in the operation. Teletalk deactivated the SIM before giving any instructions. Teletalk is also not following the rules to prevent illegal call termination at all.
Even last Tuesday, about 1000 Teletalk SIMs were seized in a joint operation by BTRC and RAB.
These SIMs were used to make illegal VoIP calls at a maximum rate of 2, 30,000 minutes per day. A gang of VoIP syndicate has been doing this illegal VoIP business for a year and a half. As a result, the government lost about Tk 7 crore in revenue.
Last February, BTRC and RAB caught a syndicate of running illegal VoIP for a long time with only 3400 SIMs of Teletalk.
The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) said more than a thousand Teletalk SIMs from homes were
used to make phone calls from the Middle East illegally. The government has lost about Tk 7-8 crore in Ali's VoIP business alone.
On the night after the raid, RAB Legal and Media Wing Director Commander Khandaker Al Moin said  based on intelligence information, Shafiqul Islam was detained along with a large quantity of illegal VoIP business equipment in a raid on his house in E-Block, Zakir Hossain Road, Lalmatia, Mohammadpur. Detained Shafiqul is the caretaker of that house.  
The original owner of the rescued VoIP equipment was a Saudi expatriate named Ali.  Although he was in exile, he used to run the VoIP business with three employees. Two out of three maintained the server. But they are now on the run.
Previous campaigns found that Teletalk SIMs were the most popular SIMs used in illegal VoIP.
Teletalk started its journey in 2004 as a government-owned operator. However, it is the most backward company in the market. Out of 16 crore 64 lakh active SIMs in the country, Teletalk has only 60 lakh subscribers.  
Complaints of VoIP using Teletalk SIM are not new. According to the BTRC, there were 21 illegal VoIP identification campaigns in the 2019-20 fiscal year. Overall total 11,802 SIM were seized, 75 percent of which belonged to Teletalk.
Even in November 2018, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission blocked 77,590 Teletalk SIMs. BTRC shut down those SIMs through CDR analyzer and geo-location detection system.
This year's BTRC investigation report further reveals that Teletalk's biometric registration/activation system is flawed.  SIMs can be easily registered from anywhere in the country as there is no identification system according to the retailer's area.  
Even the vicious circle can register the SIM in a convenient way while sitting at home.

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