Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tarana torpedoes BTRC readjustment proposal fearing mobile call rate hike

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2017-08-07 20:54:10 BdST

bdnews24

The Post and Telecommunication Division has shot down the BTRC’s mobile call rate readjustment proposal, asking the regulators to reassess and reanalyse the proposal.

The state minister has sent it back to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, fearing an increase in call costs

“BTRC has been asked to reanalyse its proposal. We (government) want to keep the rates within the reach of subscribers at any cost,” State Minister for Post and Telecommunications Tarana Halim told bdnews24.com.

In a meeting on Jul 24, the BTRC decided to propose that the ministry increase the minimum on-net call rate to Tk 0.35 per minute from existing Tk 0.25, and cut the off-net rate down to Tk 0.45 per minute from Tk 0.60.

On-net call denotes a consumer making the call to another number on the same network.

The BTRC had also proposed slashing the maximum voice call rate to Tk 1.5/minute from Tk 2 now.

Initially, the regulators had decided to run the call rates on a trial basis and later finalise them upon suggestions from the International Telecommunication Union or ITU.

“We need to know the overall impact of the proposal,” Tarana said after sending back the file to BTRC on Monday.  

In 2010, following a cost-modelling study, the telecom regulator,s with assistance from the ITU, fixed the floor and ceiling rate of the present voice call rate.

After seven years, the BTRC considered readjusting the rates with an aim to create a balance in the market by benefiting the operators which are behind and also, to raise income from the sector.

Among 130 million mobile phone users, 59.3 million subscribe to Grameenphone, making up 45 percent of the total users.

Robi and Airtel together have 35 million subscribers after a merger while Banglalink has 31.3 million.

State-owned Teletalk has 3.7 million subscribers after the recent closure of Citycell.

The Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh or AMTOB claims that the last adjustment was made after consulting all the operators.

“The BTRC needs to consult them again in case it wants to readjust the rates,” said AMTOB Secretary General TIM Nurul Kabir.