According to industry insiders, the operators see the regulator’s directive as “not feasible”
Instead of fixing a 10-second pulse for each call as per the directive of the telecom regulator, mobile phone operators in the country are still in competition to offer murky packages for pushing subscribers into using their discarded subscriber identity modules (SIM).
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), on August 2, asked the operators to fix a 10-second pulse for all calls by August 15, but apart from the state-owned operator Teletalk, no other operator has yet complied with the directive.
According to industry insiders, the operators see the regulator’s directive as “not feasible.”
Currently, the minimum rate for an on-net (to same operator) call is 25 paisa per minute and the minimum rate for an off-net (to a different operator) call is 65 paisa per minute.
Most private cellphone operators have reduced their on-net tariff to the minimum level, but the off-net tariff is still high, above Tk. 1.
The Independent found that the operators each had at least seven packages, with different pulse and on-net and off-net rates.
Industry experts said that an analysis of the packages would reveal that the packages were economical only for on-net calls. Off-net calls are actually expensive.
Though telecommunication was a burgeoning sector in Bangladesh, no study had been done yet on the actual mobile subscriber-base of the country, said a telecom expert, who preferred not to be named.
“Each operator has an advertised number of their subscriber-base. What they don’t realise is that in this competitive market with relatively low SIM price, many subscribers have multiple SIMs and use those in time, depending on the call rates,” the expert maintained.
The expert said that the operators did not switch to a common 10-second pulse for both on-net and off-net calls as this would lessen their chances of making money.
The expert added that it would also have an adverse impact on the government’s revenue from this sector.
“The new packages are just a way of encouraging the subscribers to reuse their closed SIMs, which would generally increase the possibilities of having more on-net calls for a particular operator,” said the expert.
Another expert said that due to poor network, subscribers of almost all operators had long been facing huge call drops.
“When a call drops after one minute and five or six seconds, the operator charge for full two minutes,” he said.
“The BTRC should impose the 10-second pulse for each operator. I am not opposing any packages, as mobile operators worldwide do that. But each of the packages should have a mandatory 10-second pulse, rather than one second for friends and families and 60 seconds for off-net calls,” said the expert.
-With The Independent input