Published at: New Age, March 02, 2019
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has taken a policy decision to allow any nationwide internet protocol telephony service provider (IPTSP) to launch mobile phone application-based calling service, subject to seeking the commission’s permission by such operator for the service.
The telecom regulator made the decision at a recent commission meeting with its chairman Md Jahurul Haque in the chair amid concern about misuse of the service for international call termination.
The volume of incoming international phone calls through the legal channel in Bangladesh plunged in three and a half years amid growing number of over-the-top (OTT) and illegal voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) calls.
In May, 2015, the volume of incoming international phone calls recorded highest 383.23 crore minutes with a daily average of 12.36 crore minutes.
The call volume, however, dropped to around 102 crore minutes in November this year with a daily average of 3.4 crore minutes.
Officials of the commission told New Age that controlling such applications would be very much difficult if the operators allowed their subscribers to terminate international calls through local channels.
On the other hand, foreign applications would rule the country’s market in the coming days unless local enterprises are allowed to operate such calling service, the officials said.
They also hope that the application-based phone calls would increase significantly in the coming days with the increasing speed of internet through mobile phone and gradual increase in smartphone penetration.
As per a research finding of GSMA Intelligence, an association of the global mobile network operators and handset manufacturers, smartphone connections in Bangladesh would reach 13.4 crore by the year 2025, taking the country’s position to tenth in terms of smartphone penetration.
At present, around 25 per cent of the country’s total mobile phone connections are used through smartphones. As per the recent statement of Bangladesh Mobile Phone Imputers Association, around 50 lakh units of smartphones were brought to Bangladesh through legal channel in January-September period of the year 2018.
As per the BTRC web site information, 33 IPTSP operators are licensed to operate nationwide.
Of the entities, the telecom regulator has so far allowed six IPTSPs to launch mobile phone-based applications.
The IPTSPs which have got approval for launching app-based calling service are: Inter Cloud, BDCom Online Limited, Amber IT Limited, MetroNet Bangladesh, Link3 Technology Limited and ICC Communication.
Of the entities, Inter Cloud has already launched its app-based calling service ‘Brilliant Connect’ upon receiving permission from the telecom regulator.
The six entities, however, will have to follow 14 regulatory conditions to run app-based calling service.
One of the conditions is that the entities will have to submit Tk 5 crore each in security deposit and any or full amount could be encashed by the commission if any violation of licencing conditions by the entities is detected by the commission.
Besides, the operators will have to ensure that none can misuse the technology in generating local or international calls by using virtual private network to dodge revenue of the government or any other entities.
International call termination must be completed through IGW operators and ICX operators.
Besides, the operators will have to take prior approval from the commission for offering any value-added service to their subscribers.