BTRC to hold meeting with stakeholders on VAS guidelines

Telecom ministry sends back the guidelines, asks BTRC to revise it

HM Murtuza | Published: 22:23, Dec 27,2017 | Updated: 23:00, Dec 27,2017

 
 

The posts and telecommunications ministry has sent back the draft telecommunication value-added service guidelines prepared by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission for revision.
In August this year, the telecom regulator drafted the guidelines titled ‘Regulatory Guidelines for Issuance of Registration Certificate for Providing Telecommunication Value Added Services in Bangladesh’ and published the guidelines on its web site seeking public opinion.
At the same time, the BTRC forwarded the guidelines to the posts and telecommunications ministry for getting approval.
The ministry, however, returned the draft guidelines asking the telecom regulator to take opinion from the stakeholders.
Of the stakeholders, singers have been demanding that the BTRC should acknowledge their concern as the VAS providers do not give them any royalty for the use of songs rendered by them for different value-added services.
Asked, BTRC chairman Shahjahan Mahmood told New Age that the ministry had returned the draft VAS guidelines to the BTRC.
‘Now, the commission will hold meetings with the stakeholders including singers, so that the guidelines would become acceptable to all of them,’ he said.
‘The commission will send a proposal in this regard to the posts and telecommunications ministry again after taking opinion from the stakeholders,’ Shahjahan said.
Another BTRC official said that the dispute over the revenue sharing between the mobile phone operators and VAS providers were among other reasons for the ministry’s opinion to hold consultation meeting with the stakeholders.
Earlier, the BTRC had taken a couple of initiatives to formulate guidelines over the issue with the first initiative in 2012 and the second one in 2016.
None of the initiatives of the regulator became successful amid strong oppositions from the mobile phone companies.
The mobile phone operators and the VAS 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 to 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 the government’s social obligation fund.
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.
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.

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