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15 March, 2018 08:32:22 AM

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NTTN operators bleeding due to lack of policy support

Fiber@homes Managing Director Moynul Haque Siddiqui tells The Independent
TAREQUE MORETAZA
NTTN operators bleeding due to lack of policy support

The Nationwide Telecommunication  Transmission Network (NTTN) operators are fighting for their survival, said Moynul Haque Siddiqui,  managing director of Fiber@homes, country’s first and one of the largest NTTN operators.

Terming the operators as “wholly home grown”, Siddiqui said, while there are huge potentials, lack of policy support has left the NTTN operators playing in an uneven field, which ultimately hurts the nation financially.

The Independent recently spoke to Siddiqui at his office. During an hour-long interview, he talked about the challenges being faced by the NTTN operators of Bangladesh.

Fiber@homes got its licence and started business in 2009.

About nine years have passed, yet the organisation has failed to make profit.

The experience that the operators had in these years is also “bitter”, said Siddiqui.

The NTTN operators usually provide service to mobile phone operators, ISP and cable TV operators through optical fibre transmission. Only an NTTN operator has the provision to lay transmission network and look after its maintenance.

“But the real scenario is different. We have seen non-NTTN licensees doing the work, because of which we are losing business,” said Siddiqui. He added that the government is also losing revenue, as the NTTN licensees share revenue with the government.

Siddiqui said the whole ecosystem of telco is intricately related with the NTTN operators, and it's ironic that “telcos are fighting for their survival.”

He said a small country like Bangladesh has five NTTN operators -- among which two are established under private initiatives —Fiber@homes and Summit Communications Ltd. The other three are state owned — Bangladesh Railway, Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL) and Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB).

The NTTN operators are fulfilling the government target of laying out fibre optical network within a certain period up to the upazila level.

The MD of Fiber@homes said the government in 2010 and 2011 took several initiatives to bring down the overhead cables spread across the city and replace them with the NTTN network. In that manner, the clutter of overhead cables could have been removed.

“But even after eight years, we still see the prevalence of overhead cables, even though the underground is laid out by the NTTN operators throughout the city,” he said.

Siddiqui said they have constructed a mesh network through multiple routes across the city so that the telecom service providers

can provide service

continuously.

“We have made considerable investment for laying out the network, but as the government has virtually stopped its drive against bringing down the overhead cables, our investment is facing challenge now,” he said.

He said as of now Fiber@homes has established underground cable network in every divisional cities and in every district and upazila towns. “We even take our network to 3,862 unions, which account for over 45,000 kilometre of cable,” he said, adding that both 3G and 4G services can be provided through their network.

“We are burdened with huge tax as we have to import all the transmission equipment by paying a lot of tax. If the government reduces the tax, then we can provide our service with lesser cost,” he said.

When asked about their business relationship with the telcos, Siddiqui said the telecom operators spend two to three months for discussion, but give very little time for the execution.

“If they have given us more time and share a year-wise plan with us at the very outset, then we can come up with better execution,” he said.

About the common complaint against the NTTN operator that they cannot give quick service in time of fibre cut or other problems, Siddiqui said it's not true. “In some cases of natural calamities, there have been reported incidents of delays, but these don’t depict the full scenario,” he said.

He also brushed aside the allegation that their people are not present everywhere for quick service. "We have our own people everywhere who provide service in quick time,” he said.

He said the government should immediately fix the lower ceiling and upper ceiling NTTN service prices.

HM

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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