Bangla Phone loses ISP licence after 14yrs of service

HM Murtuza | Published at 10:47pm on August 27, 2018

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has cancelled nationwide internet service providing licence of Bangla Phone Limited after allowing the company to run its business for 14 years and to invest huge amount of money in the business.
The commission at a recent meeting held its office in Dhaka annulled the licence of the mobile phone operator for running nationwide telecommunication transmission network business without having licence for providing such service.
The meeting was presided over by acting BTRC chairman Md Jahurul Haque.
A senior official of the commission told New Age that the decision was made based on a committee report that was formed to scrutinise activities of Bangla Phone’s ISP business.
The committee report focused specially on illegal NTTN business operation of Bangla Phone despite the fact that the entity has no licence to run such business, he said.
Based on the committee report, the posts, telecommunications and information technology ministry informed the BTRC its decision to cancel the Bangla Phone’s ISP licence.
Denying running NTTN business, Bangla Phone managing director Amjad Hossain Khan told New Age, ‘It is not clear to me how a regulatory commission can cancel a licence while its own ministry findings are opposite.’
He also mentioned that it would be totally without merit and illegal if the cancellation takes place.
The BTRC must follow its own rules to uphold the law of the country, not to break it by them, he said.
The BTRC will violate the constitution, the telecom guidelines and laws if they go to take such decision, he said.
Another official of Bangla Phone said that the entity had done nothing in violation of the ISP licencing conditions instead it followed due procedure since its inception and had already built a strong network for digitisation of the country with heavy investments.
Not only the NTTN operators but only the ISPs can lay fibre to provide internet service to the end users, the official said.
As per the Bangla Phone’s web site data, the entity has been in operation in the country since 2004.
Since its inception, Bangla Phone has so far installed around 20,000 kilometres of nationwide fibre optic transmission network to run its business.
Bangla Phone got the permission for sharing and installing telecommunications infrastructure and fibre optic cable in 2009, which was renewed six times.
But the government denied further renewal of the authorisation, throwing the entity’s investments into disarray, officials of Bangla Phone said.
Although Bangla Phone in 2014 applied for NTTN licence to the BTRC, the regulator denied issuing the licence to the entity.
After the expiry of tenure of ISP licence (issued in 2011) of Bangla Phone in 2016, the commission in a notice on August 22, 2016 asked all operators not to use fibre transmission service from Bangla Phone and also warned that it would take action if any operator was found using such service from the firm.
Meanwhile, the BTRC, after issuing a number of warning notices to Robi, in July this year warned Robi of Tk 50-crore financial penalty if it does not stop using nationwide telecommunication and transmission network service from Bangla Phone.
The telecom regulator took the move as the mobile phone operator continued disregarding BTRC’s instructions over discontinuation of NTTN service from Bangla Phone.
Robi, however, denied using Bangla Phone service stating that the operator was using Bangladesh Telecommunication Company Limited’s service.
In the year 2015, the commission also decided to revoke licence of Bangla Phone but the decision of commission remained unimplemented following a decision of the posts and telecommunications ministry that asked the telecom regulator to scrutinise the entity’s operation further.
Currently, five companies are in NTTN business in the country. The companies are: Fiber @ Home, Summit Communications, Bangladesh Railway, Power Grid Company of Bangladesh and BTCL.
International internet gateway licence of Bangla Phone is also under the BTRC scanner, BTRC officials said.