News From Telecom World

BTRC to solve PSTN-mobile operators row in Bangladesh

Posted on: March 23, 2009

TheBangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has assured struggling PSTN operators that it would stop mobile phone companies from cutting off interconnectivity between the two technologies for non-payment of arrears and resolve the problems related to interconnection charges.

The assurance came from a meeting on Monday between BTRC Chairman Zia Ahmed and the Association of PSTN Operators of Bangladesh (APOB), a platform of the country’s dozen public switch telephone network (PSTN) companies.

Battered by huge losses due to a lack of adequate policy interventions, the APOB discussed with the BTRC boss their problems that pile losses on them. “But their immediate concern was a notice from the mobile phone companies that by March 18, they would snap interconnection between them and the PSTN operators for non-payment of arrears,” said a source present at the meeting.

Led by APOB President A Rouf Chowdhury, the PSTN operators argued that the mobile phone companies are taking unrealistic high interconnection charges from them.

In 2004 when the mobile phone call rate was Tk 7 per minute, the interconnection charge with the PSTN companies was only 90 paisa, which was 678 percent lower than the call rate. But now when the mobile call rate came down as low as 25 paisa per minute, the interconnection charge is 40 paisa, which is 38 percent higher than the call rate.

“But if we follow the 2004 tariff ration, the per minute interconnection charge now should be only 3 paisa,” said the meeting source.

APOB also urged the BTRC to waive licence renewal fees, spectrum charge and revenue sharing with BTRC.

It should also review acquisition fees such as fees for share transfer, which should be under the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms and licence transfer fee, as there is no mention of a licence transfer fee in the initial licence.

ABOB also primarily discussed issues related to a unified licence, BTRC/NBR fees and charges, rollout charge, no objection certificates, unrealistic call tariff, business protection to ICX and IIGs, frequency band allocation, infrastructure sharing and zonal licences.

The chairman assured them that all of these issues would be discussed and resolved one by one.

Source: Daily Star

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