LAHORE - The International Clearing House (ICH) will start operations from October 1, 2012 in accordance with the policy directive issued by Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) on Thursday, as all players of the Long Distance International operators, including the Competition Commission of Pakistan and Pakistan Telecom Authority have given a go ahead in this regard. Officials said that the Ministry of Information Technology on Thursday issued policy directive to establish ICH exchange for incoming international calls. In light of the directive, PTCL and other LDI operators have signed ICH exchange agreement to channel all incoming international traffic from a unified gateway, they added. According to the agreement, PTCL will manage the gateway while all revenue will be shared by LDIs. Further, PTA has notified Approved Settlement rate (ASR) at USc8.8 per minute, LDI share USc5.9 per minute and Access Promotion charges (APC) USc2.9 per minute to be implemented from October 1, 2012. Sources also revealed that the rate has been agreed upon, however, fine-tuning of operational modalities would take in two or months and all LDI operators will keep channeling incoming international traffic through current setup during this period. Although the CCP has expressed reservations against the idea in its policy note to MoIT and PTA, it is believed that concerns of the commission will be clarified by the Ministry. It is to be noted that cartelization, quota allocation and distorting free competition are untenable under Competition Act 2010. In this regard CCP barred LDIs, on February 8, 2012, to enter into such agreement without seeking exemption from CCP. However, this time LDIs are just complying with the federal government order to establish ICH as directive has been issued by MoIT. As per Zeeshan Afzal, the noted telecom expert, CCP cannot issue orders to government while it can even provide exemption, if seek. It is said that commission has done its part by issuing advisory note to the MoIT and any direct action against LDIs is less probable as whole ICH is under the umbrella of government. However, in this regard judicial activism may prove to be legal hindrance.He said that the steep increase in termination rates is likely to provide incentive for grey traffickers leading to drop in total industry minutes. Industry sources reveal that average 1-1.2 billion minutes are terminated in Pakistan every month, while it is expected the industry volumes to drop by 30 per cent after the establishment of ICH.