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ILDTS policy to see drastic changes

  • Anaet Shawon
  • 9th February, 2022 09:54:54 AM
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ILDTS policy to see drastic changes

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Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is going to bring drastic changes in the International Long Distance Telecommunications Services (ILDTS) policy in a bid to introduce a unified licensing system for enhancing the quality of services at low costs, reducing the operating expenses and boosting the efficiency of operators.

The telecom regulator often makes adjustment by reducing licence fees and sharing profit in line with the losses in operators’ business. It suffers losses due to those reasons.

 Sources concerned say the new policy will help increase the government revenue as there will be no need for making adjustment in profit-sharing or licence fees.

BTRC Chairman Shyam Sunder Sikder told the Daily Sun that it will take time to formulate a new ILDTS policy. “We’re working on it slowly but steadily. The policy is yet to be finalised and it’ll take some time,” he said.

According to the BTRC, the new policy will be known as ‘Telecom Network Policy’.

 As per the proposed draft, the telecom regulator will introduce three types of licences -- infrastructure, wireless service and wired service.

 At present, it is issuing some 2,874 licences under 29 categories.

Some licences, including Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN), tower sharing, submarine cable and ITC-related ones, will be issued under the infrastructure licence category as part of the unified licensing system.

Some licences, including for cellular mobile operators, Broadband Wireless Access (BWA), wireless ISP and others, will be issued under wireless service category.

Some licences, including Mobile Number Portability (MNP), Internet Protocol Telephony Service Provider (IPTSP), Internet Service Provider (ISP) and Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), will be issued under wired service category.

If any licence category remains absent in the new ‘Telecom Network Policy’, the licence holders can apply for IPTSP, ISP and PSTN licences and they will get licences on a priority basis.

The BTRC sources say the commission has primarily set a target to formulate the policy this year.

Now, the BTRC has been issuing those 29 categories of licences as per the 2010 ILDTS policy.

Before the new ILDTS policy comes into effect, the BTRC will set a date as ‘transition period’, the day when at least half of the licences expire.

If any licence expires after the transition period, the licence holder has to apply under Telecom Network Policy to renew it.

The BTRC is planning to set the transition period from 2028 as at least half of the licences will expire that year. It will be possible to fully implement the Telecom Network Policy after 2034 as one  licence will expire that year. However, the BTRC sources say it will be possible to fully implement the Telecom Network Policy much before that if all the companies renew their licences as per the new policy before their expiry.

After the transition period, no licence will be issued under the ILDTS policy 2010 but licence holders can continue giving services to their customers under old licences so that no client is deprived of getting services.

Sources say the new policy, which will be dynamic, transparent and effective, will encourage and create scope for foreign investors but it will be a challenging one for local investors.

Meanwhile, the BTRC will lose direct revenue from licence fees due the reduction in the number of licences but in the long run, its indirect revenue will increase greatly along with creation of huge employments.

Talking to the Daily Sun, BTRC Director (Systems and services) Shazeda Parvin said initiative has been taken by the BTRC to formulate a new policy. “Although there’ll be major changes in the telecom network policy, actually it’s a review of ILTDS policy 2010,” she said.

Earlier in 2017, the commission, led by Shahjahan Mahmood, took the initiative to update the ILDTS policy but it did not see the light.

“It’s not right that that initiative didn’t see the light but the move is the continuation of that initiative,” Shazeda said, adding that no deadline has yet been fixed but BTRC can introduce the new policy anytime if the government wants.

Sources in the BTRC say Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ICT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy in a recent meeting urged the BTRC to complete formulation of the Telecom Network Policy by this year and set transition period year as 2023.