GP claims ‘discrimination’ over SMP restrictions

Staff Correspondent

21 February, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Mobile operator Grameenphone claimed that the telecom regulator has introduced a separate regulation for them, which will hamper the competitive environment in the market.

GP officials explained their stance on Wednesday, a day after Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC) introduced four restrictions on Grameenphone, declaring the company a significant market power (SMP).

At a meeting with a group of journalists at a Dhaka restaurant, GP officials termed this move as discriminatory.

The telecom regulator asked Grameenphone to immediately implement the restrictions, which include a ban on signing any exclusive deals with goods and service providers and stop all kinds of market communications, including media buying and campaigns.

GP Regulatory Affair Director Hossain Sadat, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Ole Bjorn Sjulstad, Head of Communications Syed Talat Kamal, Network and Planning Head Munir Hasan were present at the meeting with the journalists.

GP’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Hossain Sadat said: “We met with BTRC official on Tuesday and they said GP didn’t do anything to cause a monopoly in the sector. However, we always welcome the regulatory decision,”

The acceptable call drop for GP has been set at no more than 2 per cent. According to the latest BTRC date, GP users’ experiences excesses ratio of call drops of 3.38 per cent, almost twice the limit of 2 per cent.

Besides, the telecom operator asked the market leader to bar all kind of market communications including – media buying and campaign from March 1 as the regulator found that the operator has been influencing newspapers and televisions by making a dominating footprint in the media buying sector.

In the fourth point, the telecom watchdog has made it easier for a user to leave GP under the mobile number portability facility.

According to the regulatory body, the operator has been leading the market with 45 per cent share having a user base of over 70 million.

Currently, if a subscriber wants to switch to a network they will have to stay with the new carrier at least for 90 days. But such subscribers can quit the GP network after 30 days.

Earlier in the second week of this month, BTRC declared GP as ‘operator with the Significant Market Power (SMP)’ to enhance competition in the industry in a move that can shake up the country’s mobile telephony landscape. The regulatory decision might restrict GP’s business growth.

Sadat further claimed that other players failed to expand their business in the pace of GP, so that they went to the regulator and asked to restrict GP growth.

“It’s surprising for us to provide revenue in special tariff in the same market. We never acted as a market dominated player, we believe in a competitive market environment. This is discriminatory to enjoy different regulation from a single regulatory body,” Sadat explained.

Regarding GP’s restriction on users for a comeback with the same package after MNP switching, the company officials denied the allegation.

“We never restrict users to comeback after swathing with other operators. However, we will see the issue,” GP Head of Product AEM Saidur Rahman told the daily sun.

The operator was also found to charge data volume to check balance using its user application – MyGP which is a violation of consumers.  Service Assurance Deputy Director Imranul Abedin denied the allegation of occurring call drops on off-net calls.

He said: “From the technical side, I can say, there is no timer for call drop on off-net calls. However, you (journalists) can visit our network switching centre to learn more,”

BTRC officials claimed that the GP has a limitation of the spectrum to serve an extended volume of a user base. However, the GP officials denied the allegation.