The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has fined Robi Axiata Limited Tk 50 crore as the mobile phone operator continued receiving ‘unauthorised’ fibre optic transmission service from Bangla Phone Limited.
The telecom regulator issued a letter to Robi in this regard on Monday asking the mobile operator to pay the amount within 10 days.
The BTRC move was a follow-up to its July initiative when the commission, in a letter, warned Robi of Tk 50 crore in fine if it continued to take Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network service from Bangla Phone.
The government has refrained from giving permission to Bangla Phone for running NTTN service since 2015 and has already decided to revoke Bangla Phone’s internet service providing licence for operating ‘illegal’ NTTN service.
The BTRC’s latest letter also mentioned that the mobile phone operator was yet to give any reply to the letter issued by the commission in July this year, which indicated that Robi had nothing to say in this connection.
The BTRC’s latest letter also mentioned that instead of discontinuing Bangla Phone service, Robi continued receiving unauthorised fibre optic transmission services from Bangla Phone even after receiving the interim injunction on using the service.
The telecom regulator detected the non-compliance through an inspection of Robi Axiata Limited on August 27 this year.
By continuing receiving Bangla Phone service, the mobile phone operator failed to comply with the directives and orders issued by the commission, the BTRC letter said.
Unless the amount is paid within the BTRC-specified time, the commission would realise the amount under the section 24 and 26 of public demand act, 2001 along with taking necessary actions under section 64(3) of the act, the BTRC said.
Replying to a New Age query, Robi Axiata Limited in a statement said, ‘We [Robi] had responded to BTRC on this issue on several occasions but unfortunately BTRC have denied the receipt of our response.’
‘Therefore, it is evident that BTRC has taken its decision without assessing our [Robi] responses about it and or our agreement with the BTCL,’ said the statement issued by Robi vice-president (media, communications and sustainability) Ekram Kabir.
The statement said that the existing fibre operators were continuing to refuse to provide fibre service to any mobile operators.
‘It is no surprise that Robi was not leasing any fibre from any fibre operators, except the government-owned BTCL,’ it said.
Therefore, the letter or imposition of penalty on Robi is seriously flawed and does not have any legal basis, it said.
‘It is utterly surprising that BTRC chose to pursue Robi despite Robi taking fibre from BTCL and not Bangla Phone, whereas ignored to pursue 50 entities that are taking services in question,’ it said.
The BTRC on April 25 this year asked the mobile phone company to explain in seven days, upon receiving the notice, why it would not be restrained from taking telecom transmission service from Bangla Phone.
Robi in its reply to the commission informed that the entity was taking the service from Bangladesh Telecommunication Company Limited not from Bangla Phone.
The commission, however, found the explanation dissatisfactory as Bangla Phone leased fibre optic cable to BTCL.
Earlier, in August, 2016, the BTRC asked all telecom operators not to use fibre transmission service from Bangla Phone and warned that it would take action if any operator was found using such service from the firm.