Voice over IP may have already become the worldwide standard for making international calls, but in Nepal the technology is considered a form of racketeering.
In a humorously exaggerated news story Friday, The Himalayan Times, an English-language daily newspaper in the South Asian country, reported on an “all-out police crackdown” against “VoIP racketeers” operating in and around the Kathmandu and Lalitpur districts in the southern part of the country.
Just who are these telephonic mobsters? It turns out they are service providers offering low-cost international VoIP calls, which continue to be illegal in the country.
According to the newspaper story, the “racketeers” are managing VoIP centers that have been “siphoning off huge amount of government revenue by tampering with international calls”. Some 34 VoIP centers have been “busted” leading to 70 arrests for participating in what would be viewed as healthy competition in most countries.
Nepal, with a population of about 30 million, is located in South Asia, bordered on the north by China, and on the south by India. Telephone service in country is provided primarily by two companies: the government-owned Nepal Telecom and privately-held United Telecom Limited, a consortium of three India-based telecom companies and Nepalese private investors.