Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has decided to extend the validity period for the licences of voice over internet protocol service providers (VSPs) by two years against the backdrop of falling incoming international phone calls through the legal channel.
Besides, lobbying government high ups by the country’s VSPs for the extension was another reason that prompted the BTRC to extend the licences’ validity period, a senior BTRC official told New Age on Wednesday.
He said that the decision was made at the latest commission meeting presided over by its chairman Shahjahan Mahmood.
The BTRC official, however, said that the VSPs would have to clear their entire dues including licence fees to get the extension.
In January, 2013, the BTRC introduced the VoIP service providing licence and issued the licence to 844 operators for a period of five years that will end in January, 2018.
The BTRC awarded 38 new VSP licences later.
BTRC officials said that a good number of licences were given under political consideration and many licensees did not have enough technical facility to run the business.
Issuing such a huge number of licences created problem for the market competition and the VSPs started losing their business.
As a result, almost 90 per cent of the VSPs failed to clear their annual licence fees for the fiscal years 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Apart from the saturated market condition, falling inward international calls through the legal channel and increasing OTT-based phone calls were the other reasons for the VSPs’ failure to clear annual licence fees.
According to BTRC statistics, the incoming international call termination declined to 6.1 crore minutes a day in August this year from 8 crore minutes a day in January 2016.
The statistics also showed the incoming international calls were 6.7 crore minutes a day and 6.4 crore minutes a day respectively in January and July this year.
The VSPs are also in a fear of a sharp decline in their revenues for the same reason.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Association of VoIP Service Providers has recently issued a letter to the BTRC, seeking scopes for paying the dues in phases for the fiscal years 2016-17 and 2017-18, and for waiving annual licence fees for the fiscal years 2014-15 and 2015-16.
The BTRC, however, has decided to ask the VSPs to pay their dues along with VAT and late fees for the fiscal years 2016-17 and 2017-18 within November 30 this year, while the rest of the dues for the fiscal years 2014-15 and 2015-16 within January 31, 2018.
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