BTRC to review ‘test’ IGW rates

Staff Correspondent | Published: 23:04, Nov 12,2016

 
 

2 years after introduction

The telecom regulator has decided to review test rates for international call termination by the international gateway operators in a bid to change the rates on a permanent basis.
IGW operators have been enjoying the test rates for last two years.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission recently took the decision to review the rates at a regular meeting presided over by commission chairman Shahjahan Mahmood.
The BTRC move to change the international call termination rate (ICTR) came following a directive from the posts and telecommunications ministry.
The ministry directive said that the BTRC should review the ICTR and come up with fresh proposal about rates considering the market situation.
BTRC officials said the commission decided to form a committee to review the ICTR and was also planning to conduct a cost modelling in this regard.
In September 2014, the BTRC lowered the ICTR to US 1.5 cents from US 3 cents in a bid to facilitate politically-backed IGW operators.
The government’s share in the revenue was also lowered to 40 per cent from 51.75 per cent while the share of the IGW operators was raised to 20 per cent from 13.25 per cent.
The test rates were initially implemented for a three-month time but following pressure from the IGW operators the government later extended the test rates several times.
The government lost huge money in revenue following the lower call rate.
According to BTRC data, in the first five months after the introduction of the test call rates in 2014 the government suffered Tk 250 crore in revenue losses.
On the other hand, when the government lowered the minimum ICTR 3 to 1.5 cents in September 2014, it kept the ceiling rate unchanged at 3.45 cents.
A cartel of IGW operators, IGW Operators Forum, using the loophole raised the termination rate to 2 cents on August 24, 2015 without the consent of the government but shared the revenue at 1.5 cents.
According to BTRC data, from August 24 to December 31 of last year the IGW operators brought 12.08-crore minutes of calls that rendered Tk 1,302 crore in earnings legally as the BTRC received Tk 628.59 crore from that income.
But the IGW operators also earned additional Tk 434 crore because of the extra 0.05 cents in those call-minuets which they shared with no one, neither with the government nor with the other stakeholders. 

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