Subscribers of the two largest telecom operators Grameenphone and Robi have complained of reduced quality of service (QoS) after the telecom regulator cut of the bandwidths of those operators.
The telecom regulator Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) however said that the disruption in the QoS is temporary and they apologize to the subscribers for the disruptions. They however said until they receive their due amount from those two operators they wouldn’t increase their bandwidth.
Washiqur Rahman, an employee of a private organization and a user of Grameenphone said that for the past few days the speed of the internet is very slow. “The call quality is also very bad. The operator said in a text that the BTRC has reduced their bandwidth hence they can’t provide the required speed. Here I have become the looser as a subscriber whereas the company doesn’t need to loose anything,” he said.
Mahbub Rahman, a private university student and a subscriber of Robi-Airtel, said BTRC has to think how rational it is to make a common subscriber to suffer to realize their due audit amount.
“Those of us who purchase the internet package of the telecom operator are not getting the speed. In many cases, we get the speed of 3G. This is unexpected,” he said.
“The government should find another way of realizing the money from the operators,” he added.
President of Mobile Phone Subscriber Association Mohiuddin said, the mobile operators are charging money from the subscribers but they are not getting the services. “This type of direction of BTRC is not subscriber-friendly. We believe BTRC should find alternative way for realizing the money,” he said.
Jahrul Haque, BTRC Chairman said that they want the mobile operators to pay off the money to the regulator. “The operator owes money to the state and subscribers are facing temporary problems for this. We will sort it out soon,” he said.
When asked whether BTRC is going to take a tougher stance on the operators, Jahrul said, “We are still discussing it in the commission.”
On last Thursday, the telecom regulator partially blocked the bandwidth capacity of Grameenphone (GP) and Robi for non-payment of dues detected in audits. Experts concerned with the telecom sector termed this as an unprecedented and drastic step which ultimately hurts the 12.25 crore subscribers of the two operators.
According to the BTRC’s audit claim, GP has Tk 12,579.95 crore pending and Robi Tk 867.24 crore. BTRC asked to reduce the GPs bandwidth capacity by 30 percent and Robi’s bandwidth capacity by 15 percent.
Immediately after the BTRC’s move, GP had served a Notice of Arbitration to the BTRC inviting the regulator to a constructive arbitration process to resolve the disputed audit claim.
Failing to get any positive reply, GP on Sunday at a press conference voiced their concerns and protested against the BTRC directive to the IIG operators in Bangladesh to reduce their international internet bandwidth to Grameenphone by 30 percent.
Speaking at the press conference held at a city hotel, GP CEO Michael Foley said “The directive adds a burden to Bangledeshi people and businesses. We request BTRC to withdraw the referenced directives and cooperate in resolving the disputed audit demand through a constructive arbitration process under the Arbitration Act 2001.”
GP has been continuously reiterating that a constructive relationship with the regulator based on common visions and goals is required to realize the Digital Bangladesh ambition. There is a need for clear guidelines and a framework that is fair, transparent and adheres to the laws of Bangladesh, he added.
Pointing out that Grameenphone is a compliant company, Michael Foley highlighted that GP has been the largest corporate taxpayer in the country since 2015.
Robi CEO Mahtab Uddin Ahmed said that arbitration is a good way of solving dispute in the telecom sector. “Telecom regulators across the world follow the method of arbitration,” he said.
Telecom expert TIM Nurul Kabir said as a telecom regulator, BTRC has the capability to create roadblock for the telecom operator if they don’t comply with BTRC directive.
“But reducing bandwidth means it hurts the services of the telecom operators which ultimately hurt the subscribers. The BTRC should find other ways to settle the issues instead of reducing bandwidth,” he said.