Telcos’ bill settlement with PSTN halted since July

September 28, 2014

Mobile operators urge BTRC to reconsider ‘uneven’ rate cut
The bill settlement between the mobile telephone operators and the public switched telephone network operators has remain stuck since July after the telecom regulator lowered the rate for PSTN operators. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission in April 2014 issued a directive which lowered the call termination rate from PSTN to mobile operators to Tk 0.06 from Tk 0.18 for the current year.
The BTRC directive had said that the new tariff plan was set to help the PSTN operators who were running out of business.
Senior officials of different mobile companies said that bill settlement between the PSTN operators and mobile operators remained suspended since July.
‘We stopped sending bills from July as the PSTN operators want to pay at lower rate according to the BTRC directive. We requested the BTRC to reconsider the matter as it is creating uneven business condition,’ a senior official of a mobile company told New Age on Thursday.
The Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh has recently, in a letter to the BTRC, said that such change in rates was set without any discussion with the mobile operators.
It said that the mobile operators were not consulted before making such change which was mandatory under the telecom rules.
The AMTOB also requested the BTRC for conducting a public hearing on the matter.
The BTRRC directive said the transaction rate would be Tk 0.12 in 2015, Tk 0.15 in 2016 and again return to Tk 0.18 in 2017.
The directive also set the maximum limit for PSTN operators at 300-minute calls per user every month to avail the lower rate facility.
‘The BTRC could have cut their own charges to help the PSTN operators rather putting the burden on us,’ a senior official of a mobile company told New Age on Thursday when asked about the issue.
As the inter-operator charge is same for all operators, reducing rate for a single segment of operators creates uneven business condition, he said.
‘The other mobile operators have to pay Tk 0.18 for the same call termination while the PSTN operator will pay Tk 0.06. If we offer different rates for same service it creates uneven business situation,’ the official said.
A BTRC official said that the latest baseline tariff condition would only facilitate the private operators.
‘In the directive it is said that PSTN operators having less the 4 lakh subscribers will be eligible to get the benefit of lower interconnection charge. That means the state-run PSTN Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited will not be the beneficiary,’ he said.
Currently there are 10.96 lakh PSTN subscribers in the country with four operators including the state-run BTCL.
According to the BTRC data, as of July the BTCL’s subscriber base was 8.50 lakh while Ranks Telecom Ltd had 2.37 lakh, BanglaPhone Ltd had 5.45 lakh and World Tel had 3.70 lakh users.

-With New Age input

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