The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has initiated a move to study the inter-operator charges of the voice call tariff in a bid to lower the call rate at the user level, said officials.
BTRC officials said the commission has called a meeting with the chief executive officers of the mobile phone companies on Thursday to discuss the voice tariff issues.
‘We have sent the invitation to the CEOs of all the mobile operators for the meeting. We initiated the move in a bid to optimise the voice tariff at the user level,’ a senior BTRC official told New Age.
He said in 2009 the BTRC had set the voice tariff following a cost modelling done by the International Telecommunication Union, a UN body that deals with such issues.
‘Currently, the call charges are highest Tk 2 per minute and lowest Tk 0.25 per minute at the end user level. The operators determine their voice tariff within this range based on competition,’ he said.
The voice call termination rate, which a mobile operator pays to another operator for each call, is Tk 0.18, he said.
When asked why the BTRC move is only limited to voice tariff as the customers are also concerned over data or mobile internet tariff, the BTRC official, however, could not reply.
A number of senior officials of the mobile phone operators admitted having invitation for such a meeting.
‘We are a bit surprised though. As per our market research, there is no customer dissatisfaction over the voice call rate,’ claimed a senior official of a mobile phone company.
Another senior official of a mobile phone company claimed, ‘Lowering the voice tariff will affect the government revenue very badly as voice calls are still the main revenue earner for the operators.’
‘In a 16 crore people market we have already reached more than 12.50 crore subscribers. So there is not much scope for expansion in the voice market which will be able to compensate the loss from lower call rate,’ he said.
A BTRC official, however, said that the lowering of interconnection charges would ultimately give benefits to the mobile phone users.
But the commission would also have to be alert so that the move does not encourage illegal voice over internet protocol business.
-With New Age input