Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has allowed mobile operators to import and sell SIM card-based wireless routers and modems in the local market, which may create the scope for money laundering.
The telecom regulator, however, said the approval has been given to the mobile operators to improve access to internet services in remote areas and help roll out 5G services across the country.
Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB) also strongly opposed the decision, as it might create the scope for money laundering in addition to harming their business.
The BTRC gave the approval after the telecom operators sought permission to import USB modems and routers for selling in the local market.
BTRC Director General Brigadier General Mohammad Moniruzzaman Jewel told the Daily Sun that they have given the approval in line with the government’s policy to roll out 5G services across the country.
“I hope this will not create any scope for money laundering,” he added.
The telecom operators are selling SIM card-based modems for long from third parties. But they are not permitted to import modems and routers.
“This is not a realistic decision. It will pave the way for mobile operators to launder money abroad. We will officially protest against it after getting the letter from the BTRC,” he said.
ISPAB director Jakir Hossain said, “The mobile operators are foreign companies and the BTRC has failed to realise long due payments from those companies. Now BTRC is giving them a scope to launder money abroad.”
Mobile operators have informed BTRC that their routers will not be connected with wires as broadband routers do. The SIM-based routers will connect to the mobile network through access frequency that has been allocated for the mobile operators.
ISPAB said that such devices are fixed in nature and in direct competition with their products and services.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar said it is not the job of mobile operators to sell routers and modems.
“This is unthinkable. Mobile operators are permitted to run their business as telecom operators, not to engage in export-import business,” he said.