Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has received a total of Tk 27.8 million as fines from three mobile phone operators – Grameenphone (GP), Robi Axiata and Banglalink (BL) -- for enabling illegal voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services on SIM cards.
BTRC realised fine from Banglalink on July 12 while Grameenphone on July 13 and Robi on July 14, said a press release.
After the hearing, the BTRC asked the mobile phone operators to pay the fines.
According to the sources concerned, the BTRC had conducted a series of drives and seized 52,000 SIMs used for illegal VoIP between 2018 and 2019.
Of the SIMs, a total of 32,845 SIMs were used for state-owned Teletalk for illegal VoIP during the period and BTRC fined it Tk 50 million.
Besides, a total of 16,390 SIMs of Robi and 2,335 SIMs of Grameenphone were seized for using illegal VoIP during the period.
About illegal VoIP SIMs used by Grameenphone users, head of public and regulatory affairs of Grameenphone Hossain Sadat in a letter to BTRC on Wednesday said Grameenphone has been maintaining zero tolerance against the illegal call termination and undertaken necessary prevention and corrective measure.
“If a biometrically registered subscriber uses his or her connections for VoIP purpose or any person gets the SIMs through mugging, theft, forgery or any illegal way and uses such connections for illegal activities, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are unable to prevent such activity proactively unless they are notified,” Hossain Sadat said to BTRC on July 13 in a response of regulator’s fine.
But whenever any connection is engaged in illegal call termination, it is detected by the detection system installed by Grameenphone and the connections are blocked immediately, he added.
The operator requested to develop a proper framework on dealing the illegal VoIP.
Shah Md Fazle Khuda, vice president of Robi Axiata, in a separate letter to regulator on Thursday, said, “We have not violated any lawful provisions and have fully complied with all requirements placed by the Commission time to time.”
“We also humbly submit that there is an absence of procedural fairness and rightful culpability in the relation to alleged offence,” the Robi letter said.
“Nonetheless, with the objective of showing full cooperation to the Commission, we are depositing the fine without admission of any culpability,” the operator clarified.
Banglalink also denied any wrongdoing in its part.
“We have repeatedly mentioned in our submissions that Banglalink denies any wrongdoing on its part,” said the chief of corporate and regulatory affairs at Banglalink Taimur Rahman.
“Accordingly, we expect that the Commission shall consider this payment as one-off incident and shall not take it as a precedent for any future similar demand inasmuch as Banglalink is cooperating with the Commission to prevent such illegal VoIP activities,” he said in a letter to BTRC on July 12, 2022.