POST TIME: 11 July, 2019 01:58:15 AM
BTRC not to increase bandwidth until operators pay dues

BTRC not to increase bandwidth until operators pay dues

Subscribers of the country’s two largest telecom operators, Grameenphone (GP) and Robi, have complained of declining quality of service (QoS) after the telecom regulator cut of their bandwidth.

The Bangladesh Telecommuni-cation Regulatory Commission (BTRC), however, said that the disruption in the QoS was temporary and apologised to the subscribers for the inconvenience.

But the telecom regulator has made it clear that they would not increase the bandwidth until the two operators paid their dues.

Washiqur Rahman, an employee of a private organisation and a Grameenphone user, told The Independent that his internet had become very slow over the past few days.

“The call quality is also very bad. The operator said in a text that the BTRC had reduced their bandwidth and hence they can’t provide the required speed. Here I have become the loser as a subscriber, whereas the company doesn’t need to lose anything,” he said.

Mahbub Rahman, a private university student and a subscriber of Robi-Airtel, said the BTRC had to think how justifiable it was to make an ordinary subscriber to suffer to realise their dues. “Those of us who purchased the internet package of the telecom operator are not getting the speed. In many cases, we get the speed of 3G. This is unexpected,” he added.

“The government should find another way to realise the due from the operators,” he said.

Mobile Phone Subscribers’ Association president Mohiuddin said mobile operators were charging money from the subscribers, but they were not getting the services. “This type of direction of the BTRC is not subscriber-friendly. We believe that the BTRC should find an alternative way for realising the money,” he added.

BTRC chairman Jahrul Haque told The Independent that they wanted the mobile operators to pay the money to the regulator. “The operator owes money to the state and subscribers are facing temporary problems for this. We will sort it out soon,” he said.

Asked whether the BTRC was going to take a tougher stand, Jahrul said: “We are still discussing it in the commission.”

Last Thursday, the BTRC partially blocked the bandwidth capacity of Grameenphone (GP) and Robi for non-payment of dues. Telecom experts termed this as unprecedented and drastic, which is hurting the 12.25 crore subscribers of the two operators.

According to the BTRC’s audit claim, GP has Tk. 12,579.95 crore pending and Robi Tk. 867.24 crore. The BTRC reduced the GP's bandwidth capacity by 30 per cent and Robi’s by 15 per cent.

Immediately after the BTRC’s move, GP had served a notice of arbitration to the BTRC, inviting the regulator to a constructive arbitration process to resolve the disputed audit claim. Failing to get any positive reply, GP on Sunday at a press conference voiced its concern and protested against the BTRC directive to the IIG operators in Bangladesh to reduce their international internet bandwidth to Grameenphone by 30 per cent.  

Speaking at the press conference held at a city hotel, GP CEO Michael Foley said: “The directive adds a burden to the Bangledeshi people and businesses. We request the BTRC to withdraw the referenced directives and cooperate in resolving the disputed audit demand through a constructive arbitration process under the Arbitration Act 2001.”

GP has been continuously reiterating that a constructive relationship with the regulator, based on common visions and goals, is required to realise the Digital Bangladesh ambition.

Foley said there was a need for clear guidelines and a framework that are fair, transparent and adhered to the laws of Bangladesh.

Pointing out that Grameenphone is a compliant company, Michael Foley highlighted that GP was the largest corporate taxpayer in the country since 2015.

Robi CEO Mahtab Uddin Ahmed told The Independent that arbitration was a good way of resolving disputes in the telecom sector. “Telecom regulators around the world follow the method of arbitration,” he said.  

Talking to The Independent, telecom expert TIM Nurul Kabir said that as a telecom regulator, the BTRC can create roadblocks for telecom operators if they fail to comply with its directives. “But reducing the bandwidth hurts the services of the telecom operators. This ultimately hurt the subscribers. The BTRC should find other ways to settle the issues instead of reducing bandwidth,” he added.