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7 June, 2020 01:40:46 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 7 June, 2020 04:51:48 PM

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Govt to implement SMP guidelines finally, GP to ‘pay toll’

Creating level-playing field in telecom sector
SHAHED SIDDIQUE, Dhaka
Govt to implement SMP guidelines finally, GP to ‘pay toll’

The government is finally going to implement its Significant Market Power (SMP) guidelines after 16 months to make sure that the players in the telecommunication sector act on a level playing ground.

As per the guidelines, any operator having more than 40 per cent of the market share will be subject to SMP compliance. According to this provision, Grameenphone (GP) is the only operator among all four in the telecom market to be affected as it has a whopping 54 per cent market share alone.

Sources concerned said the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will issue a notice to GP this week to comply with the SMP conditions.

These, however, include three conditions that involve clipping the inter-operator call termination rate for GP by five paisa.

It means that if a Robi or Banglalink customer makes a call to GP network, Robi or Banglalink as operators would need to pay five paisa to GP. But if a GP customer makes a call to Robi or Banglalink network, the former has to pay 10 paisa to Robi or Banglalink.

Then the second condition imposes a mandatory stay period of two months or 60 days on a subscriber if s/he switches from Robi or Banglalink or Teletalk to GP using the mobile number portability (MNP) system. For a GP subscriber to switch to others using the MNP, the minimum stay period is, however, three months or 90 days.

The last condition stipulates that the GP has to take mandatory permission from the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC) before coming up with any new offers, packages or call rates. Currently, the largest mobile operator in the country can freely drum up their marketing/ advisement campaigns.

Asked by The Independent, BTRC Chairman Jahurul Haque admitted that the regulator has already taken a decision to implement the SMP Guidelines and that his office will issue a notice thereof to GP soon.

According to him, the BTRC in its commission meeting last Thursday took the decision to implement the guideline.

BTRC being the country’s telecom regulator had declared GP in February last year as SMP in an attribution that opened the path for engineering several strategic moves to curb its dominance in the local telecom market.

SMP is a regulatory process through which pure competitive condition is maintained in the thriving market.

With implementation of the SMP guidelines, it’s expected that the large operators won’t get any scope for doing monopoly business.

As per its moves to curb the dominance of GP in the market, the BTRC last year sent a letter to the operator, asking it to be compliant with a total of four conditions that included fixing the bar of minimum call rate to 50 paisa for GP even though the same rate for other operators stand at 45 paisa.

Other three conditions involve call termination fees, all package approvals and GP will get minimum benefit if any subscriber switches to GP from other operators.

However, the tough one is that the operator cannot go for any advertisement for marketing purpose without regulatory approval, which triggered huge talks at that time.

Following the notice last year, GP filed a case with the High Court (HC) seeking to announce the notice illegal. After long hearings involving the two sides, the HC did not accept the GP application but issued an order to BTRC to comply with the regular rules.

BTRC officials said that after having the court order in last March they held several meetings and took the move to serve the notice with conditions attached.

The number of GP's active SIMs stood at 7.27 crore and revenue grew 3.4 per cent to Tk 13,280 crore last year. It logged a record of Tk 3,520 crore profit last year, which remains the highest till date.

Experts and industry insiders said declaring the dominant operator as SMP is a common practice in the developed world. Such initiative, the first of its kind in Bangladesh, will help create a balance in the market, they hoped.

HM/BK

 

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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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