Islamabad - Ministry of Information Technology has said that the results of reversal of ICH policy has started reflecting in the form of increase in white minutes and with the passage of time the industry and users would reap full benefit of the decision while tax collections would increase further.

Spokesman of the ministry said that the International Clearing House (ICH) regime, a consortium of Long Distance International (LDI) operators formed to terminate all international traffic through a single gateway exchange eliminating competition from the market, was introduced by the previous government in August 2012, upon active lobbying of some LDI operators. Under the ICH regime, the rate for international call termination was fixed at 8.8 US cent per month, thus call rates for calling to Pakistan from abroad had increased manifold leading to unprecedented rise in grey traffic and pushed consumers towards over the top (OTT) services like Skype, Tango, Viber etc. which were never the first choice for consumers before ICH. The legal traffic that stood at almost two billion minutes per month immediately before introduction of ICH regime, dropped to less than 400 million minutes per month by June 2014.

The spokesman said that although some consumers have shifted to OTTs, but still the benefits of curbing ICH are too large.

The legal traffic of two billion minutes per month was recorded before introduction of ICH, which means that ICH regime caused a loss of 44.4 billion international call minutes to the telecom sector of the country causing a loss of approx Rs.400 billion to national kitty, he said.

He added that now after the revocation of ICH policy, white traffic increased to more than double 852 million within first month subsequent to passing of the order of the Supreme Court and then to 1.02 billion minutes in the month of April 2015 and is still on the rise.

He said although it is difficult to calculate the exact traffic that has shifted to OTT, it is estimated to be around 500 million call minutes per month. Thus, the legal traffic is expected to get stabilised at around 1.5 billion minutes per month as the benefits of revised policy fully mature, he said.