BTRC Chairman Jahurul Haque has said there is “no alternative to quality service” when it comes to the country’s mobile network and internet service.
“We’re working to ensure quality service. Many operators are failing to provide the requisite service to their clients due to lack of spectrum. There’ll be no compromise with operators on the issue of quality service,” the BTRC chairman said in an interview with UNB.On tower sharing and upgrading, Haque urged all the operators to be cooperative towards each other. “Each of them has around 25-30,000 towers. The 4 companies who received tower licenses from the authority to build them are yet to reach a consensus with the operators. We’ll finalise our decision and notify the four companies concerned, and they are bound to comply with our decision.”
Talking about complaints against the four mobile operators, the BTRC chairman provided figures for last March, which revealed a total of 334 complaints against market leader Grameenphone, 448 complaints against Robi, 149 against Banglalink, 166 against Airtel and 101 complaints against Teletalk.
Replying to a query about Grameenphone subscribers being reputedly the worst sufferers of network problems, Haque mentioned that all operators have problems to some degree. “When subscribers complain, we take steps to solve those. We won’t compromise with anyone in case of quality service.”
“The Quality of Service Regulation has already been issued to verify if the relevant standards with regards to services of the operators meet best practices. Tests drives are being conducted in different areas. No operator should be labeled as best operator as the quality of service varies from one place to another. We’re working to improve the services of all operators across the country.”
The BTRC chief mentioned that work is on to solve the problems that the operators face frequently such as load-shedding and battery stealing.
Referring to the ‘call drop’ nuisance faced by almost all mobile phone users, he said a notice has already been issued to the operators seeking explanation over dropped calls.Haque said there has been some improvement in this regard and that the customers are now benefiting from. “Hopefully, there will be more progress.”
Referring to the recovery of unregistered SIM, the BTRC Chairman said a total of 30 drives were conducted across the country to check fake RIM/SIM registration. A total of 15,124 fake SIMs were recovered. Of them, 1,118 are of GP while 2475 of Robi, 1837 of Banglalink, a whopping 9667 of state-run telco Teletalk and 27 against non-existent Citycell. Besides, law enforcers arrested 102 people in this connection.
Talking about illegal handsets in the country, Haque said 2,76,80,840 mobile handsets were imported last year. There are about 25-30 percent ‘gray market’ available for handsets in Bangladesh.
He said, “About 10 crore handsets remain active in the country. Each year, approximately three and a half crore mobile handsets are sold in Bangladesh.”
However, an IMEI database system has been set up in the BTRC to verify the accuracy of handsets and to preserve data stored on the customer's mobile phone handset.
Currently, he said, the process of collecting IMEI data from imported and domestic produced mobile handsets is in progress. The process of providing training to stakeholders concerned is also going one.
Haque said as the regulator launched the central Biometric Verification and Monitoring Platform in SIM registration process, it reduced fraudulent activities, including SIM cloning. It helps the authority to verify user’s identity according to his or her NID, to blacklist a user, if necessary, and take legal action against perpetrators, he added.
‘Significant market power’
Haque said this step was taken following the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission Significant Market Power Regulation which was issued on November 14 last year. “So, there’s no fear for operators to be affected by the step.”
He said no mobile operators would be allowed to do monopoly business. “We announced the SMP and will notify soon which sectors will be under SMP. We’re behaving equally with everyone. BTRC is conducting its activities as per law.”
Referring to fitting of the telecommunication act, he said a process is on in this regard, which is expected to be completed soon.
On BTRC’s action regarding blocking of porno sites, Haque said it blocked nearly 4,000 such sites so far. Besides, about 15,000 sites were blocked using cyber security system.
Regarding BTRC’s initiative to reduce internet price, he said the commission has taken initiatives to fit in telecommunication service and make internet service affordable for all.
According to BTRC, there are 160.590 million subscribers as of April this year. Of them, 74.473 million are GP subscribers, 47.574 mn of Robi, 34.547 mn of Banglalink, and 3.995 million of Teletalk.
Currently, a total of 93.702 million internet users are in the country. Of them, 87.910 million browse internet through mobile while 0.060 million people use WiMAX. Some 5.732 million use ISP+PSTN.
The Mobile Number Portability service is a recently launched service under which subscribers can change their operator without changing their contact number.
As of February last, the chairman said 163,321 subscribers have changed their operators. Among them, 76,000 subscribers are from GP, 57,000 from Banglalink, 27,000 from Robi and 3000 from Teletalk.
Besides, Robi added 118,000 new subscribers after the launching of MNP system, while Banglalink another 28,000, GP 14,000 and Teletalk just 2,000.