Bangladesh slaps mobile-phone operators with December deadline to resolve nagging call drops

REF: State Minister for Post and Telecommunications Tarana Halim has set mobile-phone operators a two-month deadline to solve the problem of call drops.She also directed the telecom regulators BTRC to do their bit within the stated timeframe.

The minister issued the directive in a meeting at the Secretariat on Monday with the CEOs of wireless carriers on the problem of dropped calls and other difficulties faced by subscribers.

“Call drops, 3G service problems, high internet cost, needless deduction of money, and deduction of money even in case of unlimited packages have become glaring.

“I had earlier discussed about call drops, but the problem persists. It should not have taken so long to solve it,” she said.

Officials of the operators told the minister that the IGW, ICX and NTTN services, too, were part of the call-drop issue.

“The operators will have to report their measures to address call drop problem by December. There must be a solution to drop calls (by this time),” Halim said, promising a round of meeting with IGW, ICX and NTTN.

India’s telecoms regulator recently ordered the country’s mobile phone operators to compensate the subscribers with Rs 1 for each dropped call.

The state minister wanted to know whether the operators in Bangladesh would prefer to pay compensation or restore call minutes.“You must say whether you want to pay compensation or solve the problem,” Halim told the CEOs and representatives of the companies.

Grameenphone CEO Rajeev Sethi, Banglalink CEO Ziad Shatara, Robi CEO Supun Weerasinghe, Airtel Bangladesh CEO Prasanta Das Sharma, Citycell CEO Mehboob Chowdhury, and state-owned Teletalk’s Managing Director Gias Uddin Ahmed had attended the meeting.

BTRC Director General (Systems and Service) Brig Gen Md Emdad ul Bari, who was also present among others, said their guidelines had mentioned the issues pertaining to call drops of standard and package categories.

Tarana directed the BTRC to explore whether subscribers could be compensated or have call time restored.

She also asked the operators to ensure that 2G speed was not passed off as 3G, SMS advertisements were not sent between midnight and 6am, and money was not deducted immediately after giving an offer.

Post and Telecommunications Division Secretary Md Faizur Rahman Chowdhury said, “Often, money is deducted immediately after an offer is made. The operators must provide service in accordance with the terms of an offer. Legal action will be taken otherwise.”

Currently, Bangladesh has six mobile phone operators including state-owned Teletalk.

According to BRTC data, more than 130 million of Bangladesh’s 160 million people had mobile phone SIMs until August and 52.5 million had internet connections.

BTRC Vice-Chairman Brig Gen (Retd) Md Ahsan Habib Khan and other officials of the telecom ministry were also present at the meeting.

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