BTRC fines Banglalink Tk 17cr for unapproved border BTSs

HM Murtuza | Updated at 01:16am on August 18, 2017

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A file photo shows the front view of a Banglalink sales and care centre in Dhaka. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has decided to impose Tk 17 crore as penalty on mobile operator Banglalink for ‘breaching’ telecommunication rules by installing and using base transceiver station sites near border areas without getting regulatory approval. — New Age photo

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has decided to impose Tk 17 crore penalty on mobile operator Banglalink for ‘breaching’ telecommunication rules by installing and using base transceiver station (BTS) sites near border areas without getting regulatory approval.
The telecom regulator approved the penalty at a regular commission meeting held on Wednesday.
BTRC chairman Shahjahan Mahmood presided over the meeting.
As per the findings of the telecom regulator, the country’s third largest mobile phone operator has been using 109 mobile phone towers in different districts near border without getting regulatory approval, BTRC sources said.
Of the 109 BTSs, 40 are owned by Banglalink, while the rest 69 BTSs are rented from other operators.
Banglalink has been using the towers since 2014. But it sought regulatory approval afterwards in violation of telecom rules.
According to BTRC law, taking no objection certificate from the border security force and permission from the telecom regulator are mandatory for all the mobile phone operators for setting up base stations near border areas, the BTRC officials said.
They said that the commission found that the operator did not take any permission from the telecom regulator and the border security force before starting use of base stations near to the border area.
A senior official of the commission said that the regulator had taken the value of the top three operators’ earnings from the border side towers in determining the penalty amount, a senior BTRC official told New Age on Thursday.
As per the regulatory assumption, the operator’s extra earning by using the towers was around Tk 17 crore during four to five months, he said.
Banglalink head of corporate communications Asif Ahmed told New Age that they had not received any notice from BTRC about any fine.
‘Banglalink, to be compliant with all regulations, has applied to BTRC for approval for installation of border BTS sites,’ he said.
‘We have provided all relevant information to BTRC to get the approval and we believe we shall get it soon,’ Asif said.
Earlier in 2016, the telecom regulator identified the same sort of wrongdoings when Banglalink sought regulatory approval for 433 mobile phone towers which were set up in 2013.
Although the operator found installation of BTSs near to the border areas threatening for the country’s security, approved Banglalink’s proposal with retrospective effect.
At the same time, the regulator also warned the operator for installation and use of such base stations without regulatory approval.
Airtel, that has already been merged with Robi, had also done such violation in 2013 by installing towers at 191 sites in the border areas without getting approval from the telecom regulator.
The regulator then warned the operator of financial penalty and gave retrospective approval.