Technology neutrality and quality handsets are crucial for affordable 4G or Long Term Evaluation services, said officials of mobile companies in the LTE Summit 2016 in Dhaka on Sunday.
The summit was jointly organised by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka hotel in the capital.
Openness in government policies is also a key aspect for the mobile phone companies to provide 4G or LTE, a faster data connection technology from the existing 3G, the speakers said.
‘Only 4 per cent of total smartphones under Grameenphone network is 4G enabled. So, this is very important that people have quality handset to enjoy quality service. And on affordability of the service it is largely depending on how much the government opens up with infrastructure and spectrum issues,’ said Grameenphone chief executive officer Petter-B Furberg.
Banglalink chief corporate affairs officer Taimur Rahman said that coordinated effort from government side was needed to help such moves.
‘We have issues with the finance ministry, commerce ministry, Bangladesh Bank and other government offices where we need support from the BTRC. There are policy issues where we need coordinated effort of the government. Especially in the infrastructure sharing issue where lot of policies will be updated or launched needs more discussion,’ he said.
Robi chief executive officer Mahtab Uddin Ahmed said although foreign investors were keen to invest more ground reality was difficult for the operators.
‘The operators are dying, they are merging each other to sustain. Except one operator all others are still struggling after so many years. It is because we provide the lowest pricing in service,’ he said.
The tax authorities are becoming heavy on the operators and mostly look for short-term gains, Mahtab said.
‘I hope with 4G service the government will come up with policies with long-term vision and deregulation
of the industry,’ he said.
BTRC director general of Systems and Services Division Emdad ul Bari said that affordability was a big question for the data service, both at service and handset pricing.
‘Cost reduction is very important and infrastructure sharing is the key here. We have long range of licences which something we should look into. And I also support the deregulation to some extent,’ he said.
Bari also said that pricing of broadband was important. ‘Only 2 per cent of the price a user pays for data goes to the wholesaler. Where is the rest of the money? I think we need to look into that seriously,’ he said.
In another panel session, BTRC director general of Spectrum Management Division Md Nasim Parvez said the policy for 4G should consider consumer and government interest and operators sustainability.
‘The growth of data usage is very high as in December 2013 per month usage by a user was 46MB which increased to 446MB in October 2016,’ he said.
There are a number of challenges for launching the 4G service in the country both from government side and the operators’ end, Parvez said.
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