BTRC drafts fresh VAS guidelines

HM Murtuza | Published: 22:47, Aug 22,2017 | Updated: 23:38, Aug 22,2017

 
 

A file photo shows customers checking out mobile phones at a shop in Dhaka. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission on Tuesday published afresh draft guidelines on value-added services mobile operators offer stating that the range of revenue sharing between the mobile phone operators and the VAS providers would be finalised after receiving public opinions on the guidelines. — New Age photo

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission on Tuesday published afresh draft guidelines on value-added services mobile operators offer stating that the range of revenue sharing between the mobile phone operators and the VAS providers would be finalised after receiving public opinions on the guidelines.
The draft guidelines titled ‘Regulatory Guidelines for Issuance of Registration Certificate for Providing Telecommunication Value Added Services in Bangladesh’ were published on the BTRC’s web site seeking public opinions.
The BTRC had taken its first initiative to formulate guidelines on providing VAS in 2012 and the second in 2016.
None of the initiatives of the regulator became successful amid strong oppositions from the mobile phone companies.
Value-added services are provided by a third-party company through the mobile phone networks. The mobile phone companies offer the basic telecom services like voice and data plans, but the other services like missed call alert, welcome tune, and various application-based services are provided by VAS providers.
The telecom regulator asked interested entities or individuals to submit their comments to the BTRC on the draft guidelines within September 6, 2017.
The mobile phone operators and the value-added service operators have been at loggerheads over setting revenue sharing between them amid initiative from the operators to lower VAS providers’ revenue from gross revenue.
Against the backdrop of mobile phone operators’ initiative to reduce VAS providers’ revenue drastically, the government asked the operators to maintain status quo on VAS revenue sharing.
As per the BTRC’s latest draft guidelines, VAS providers will have get registration certificate from the BTRC, while the application fee for registration and registration fee for a period of five years will be Tk 5,000 and Tk 50,000 respectively.
Besides, VAS providers will have to share 5.5 per cent of their gross revenue with the government and have to deposit 1 per cent of their gross revenue to government’s social obligation fund.
In case of revenue sharing, the money should be submitted within 10 days after every three months. Such money, however, could be deposited within next 60 days with 15 per cent delay charge.
The regulator in the draft guidelines also said that no foreign or non-resident Bangladeshi investors would be allowed to hold the entire stake of a VAS providing entity.
Foreign entity, however, will not be allowed to hold more than 51 per cent stake in a VAS providing entity, while a consortium of foreign and NRB investors will not be eligible to get such licence.
In case of NRB investor applying for VAS registration along with Bangladeshi partner, there will be no limitation on quantity of foreign equity.
Neither foreign investors nor NRB investors will be allowed to make equity investment by taking loan from any local bank, they must have to bring foreign currency for such investments.
The VAS guidelines also made it mandatory for all the VAS providers to take prior approval from the BTRC on the services they would provide.
At the same time, VAS providers will be responsible for setting up monitoring systems at the BTRC so that the regulator could access the system at any time for supervision. 

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