Update July 8, 2019

Dhaka 5-01 pm, 09-August, 2020

GP claims bandwidth cut “inappropriate”

Mirajul Moin Joy

Grameenphone (GP) today claimed its bandwidth cut “inappropriate” and sought a revision through arbitration over the issue but Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said their proposal was not legally “considerable”.

“Grameenphone believes this move is illegal, and the company will seek intervention of the Court against this unconscionable decision of the regulator,” the mobile phone operator’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Michael Foley said at a press conference in a city hotel.

He requested BTRC to withhold the decision based on a “disputed” audit report and resolve the issue through a constructive arbitration process under the Arbitration Act 2001.”

“This (arbitration) is not legally possible,” BTRC chairman Jahurul Haque told BSS as approached for comments on the GP proposal.

He said discussions could be held with GP but “the BTRC law does not have any provision for arbitration and they must pay the outstanding dues”.

Foley called the BTRC decision “unfortunate” and described it as an attempt to pressurize GP to pay a “disputed audit claim”.

The GP chief executive also feared that the BTRC directive to international gateway operators (IIGs) to cut down the its bandwidth by 30 percent would affect local business communities while the IIGs would lose potential revenue and business opportunities as well.

On July 4, BTRC directed all the IIGs operators to cut down 30 percent bandwidth of the total usage of Grameenphone while it was 15 percent for Robi for outstanding dues.

The BTRC decision was first such punitive measure against the mobile network operators (MNOs) which the regulator said was needed to “discipline telecommunication sector”.

GP has outstanding dues of Taka 12,579 crore while the amount was Taka 867.24 crore for Robi, according to the BTRC’s audit report.

The telecom regulator said it previously issued demand notes to the respective operators several times for realizing the outstanding dues.

BTRC carried out the audit on the two the operators businesses until 2015 since they began operations in Bangladesh.

Until now GP was consuming 209.93 gigabits per second (Gbps) bandwidth while the BTRC decision now reduced the figure to 146.95 Gbps. On the other hand, Robi consumed about 150.67 Gbps which was brought down to 128.

Earlier the regulator suspended issuing no objection certificate (NOC) for importing equipment to run the network over the outstanding dues.

According to BTRC, as of May, Grameenphone has 7.48 crore active connections while Robi owns 4.77 crore connections and about half of them are using internet.

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