Bangladesh govt makes mobile calls pricy in the name of uniform rate

HM Murtuza | Published: 20:57, Aug 13,2018 | Updated: 11:48, Aug 14,2018


The government has made mobile phone calls costly for the majority of the customers as the uniform floor rate (Tk 0.45 per minute) came into force from 12:01am Tuesday.

The government’s move that scrapped provision of separate rates for on-net (same network) and off-net (other network) calls came ahead of the launch of mobile number portability service.

To this end, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission issued a directive on Monday asking the mobile phone operators to implement the uniform floor rate for calls by resetting the previous floor rates (Tk 0.25 per minute for on-net and Tk 0.60 per minute for off-net) and keeping the upper ceiling unchanged at Tk 2 per minute, an official of BTRC told New Age.

The uniform rate would be effective for making calls in any operator.

Officials of the mobile operators said that they had received the BTRC directive and would comply with it.

Initially, the proposal of the telecom regulator was to set uniform call rate at Tk 0.40 per minute, but it was revised upward at Tk 0.50 per minute at a meeting of top government officials on July 24.

As per the BTRC statistics, leading mobile phone operator Grameenpone’s subscribers make 90 per cent of their calls on-net and the rest 10 per cent off-net.

On the other hand, 71 per cent of the calls that the Robi customers generate are on-net and 69 per cent of the calls that the Banglalink subscribers generate are on-net.

The subscribers of state-owned Teletalk generate only 15 per cent on-net calls.

So, the new call rate would ultimately increase cost of phone calls for the majority of the customers of the three major mobile phone operators — Grameenphone, Robi and Banglalink.

Although the on-net call rate was set at Tk 0.25 per minute, the average on-net call rate of the mobile phone operators was Tk 0.49 per minute.

Even though the floor price of the uniform call rate has been set at Tk 0.45, the actual cost of the mobile phone subscribers would be higher as a very few packages would be available at the rate, said BTRC officials.

Under the BTRC’s new directive, interconnecting charge for one operator to another operator would be Tk 0.14 per minute including Tk 0.04 for ICX operator and Tk 0.10 for the terminating operator.

The rest amount of the call tariff, whether it’s Tk 0.45 or Tk 2, would be kept by the originating operator.

Apart from the mobile phone operators, the new rate would also be applicable for the IPTSP, PSTN and ICX operators as well.

The BTRC in its directive also barred the mobile operators from offering separate tariffs for on-net and off-net phone calls.

The packages, offers and air-time purchased or opt-in by the subscribers before 12.01am on Tuesday must be adjusted by the operators in line with the new tariff and the subscribers must be opt-out automatically from the old packages, offers and air-time after completion of validity period.

All the regular and promotional packages, offers and bundles, which would be contradictory with the BTRC’s new directive, would become invalid automatically.


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