Country’s mobile phone subscribers’ appetite for availing themselves of the mobile number portability service plummeted immediately after the announcement of the budget for the current fiscal year as the subscription cost increased by fivefold due to the government’s new tax measures.
The monthly average MNP dropped by 34.76 per cent to 63,800 in July-August, the first two months of the fiscal year (2019-2020), compared with 97,796 in May-June, the last two months of the last fiscal year (2018-2019).
In October last year, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission introduced the much awaited MNP service by way of setting up a new entity following the mobile phone operators’ reluctance to provide the service.
The telecom regulator launched the service, which allows customers to change mobile phone operators keeping their number unchanged, in an expectation that the MNP service would push the telecom operators to improve their service quality.
Besides, the increased competition would also help customers avail better voice and data packages at competitive prices.
Before the FY20 budget announcement, the MNP service had been attaining customers’ attention when the MNP fee was only Tk 56.
To make the service popular and affordable, the National Board of Revenue through a statutory regulatory order waived SIM tax for MNP service as customers require having a new SIM for enjoying operator switch.
In the budget for FY20, the government, however, increased SIM tax to Tk 200 from Tk 100 without extending the waiver issued for the MNP service, taking the total cost of MNP to Tk 256 (including the newly imposed SIM tax) for each customer.
‘We noticed mobile phone operators’ moves in improving service quality after the launch of MNP service,’ Infozillion Teletech BD chief executive officer Mohammad Zulfikar said.
Since the MNP launch, the customers’ appetite for availing themselves of the MNP service reached the peak in May this year, as 1,11,127 mobile subscribers successfully changed their operators through MNP service while the figure was 44,312 in October last year, the first month of MNP launch.
However, the number of MNP subscription fell to 69,885 and 57,715 respectively in July and August of FY20.
‘We have already informed the regulatory bodies including the posts and telecommunications ministry about the descending trend in MNP subscription in July, August as well as September due to the SIM tax issue,’ said Zulfikar, adding that none of the bodies was yet to give them any assurance that they would solve the problem.
Unless the SIM tax waiver for MNP service is restored, it would be a tough job to popularise the service, he said.
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