Mobile operators have cut back on compensation for call drops in recent months, in a worrying development for customers.
Between August last year and July this year, there were 181.25 crore call drops, according to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. As compensation, the mobile operators credited subscribers with 15.36 crore minutes, as per an internal report of the telecom regulator.
In contrast, between August 2017 and September last year there were 222.15 crore call drops and operators gave back 69.38 crore free minutes as compensation.
“This highlights a reluctance among mobile operators to compensate customers,” said a senior official of the telecom watchdog.
As per rules, if customers face more than two call drops in a day, they will receive compensation of one minute for every call drop from the second drop onwards.
However, mobile operators are only compensating for drops in calls on their own network, which they feel could be due to some glitch on their end.
But for drops when on call to another network they are not providing compensations as more than one parties are involved — like another operator, interconnection exchange and fibre cable company — in the call and the drop could arise for a problem at their end too.
Md Jahurul Haque, chairman of the regulatory body, acknowledged the problems, which they did not think through when the rules were formulated.
The telecom regulator introduced the compensation system in 2016 amid huge call drops in different parts of the country across all operators and it took another year to implement it.
“There are some challenges to ensuring compensation for all dropped calls,” he said, adding that the regulator will be able to address the issues soon, which will help to improve the service quality of the mobile operators.
According to the report, market leader Grameenphone reported the highest number of call drop of 79.07 crore. It compensated back only 6.23 crore minutes, which is less than the market average of 7.88 percent.
As of August, Grameenphone has 7.57 crore active customers in their network.
Robi, which is the country’s second largest carrier with 4.78 crore active customers, has reported 74.68 crore drops and compensation of 7.29 crore minutes.
Banglalink’s call drop total was 22.04 crore and compensation 1.86 crore minutes to its 3.48 crore active subscribers.
Teletalk, the country’s lone state-owned carrier, had 5.46 crore call drops but the operator gave no compensation.
The data on call drops was reported by the operators themselves; the BTRC did not independently verify them.
A senior official of the regulator said they have the scope to check back the numbers but they never bothered to verify the data. Sohel Sabir, an aggrieved customer, who is taking mobile phone service for more than one and a half decade, said in the last couple of years he has been hearing about compensation but never got any minute back from his operator. “I think that this is all an eyewash — I have no trust,” he added.
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