The telecom regulator has issued a set of conditions to limit the country's largest telecom operator Grameenphone's business activities.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) imposed the conditions while referring to the operator as a significant market power (SMP), reads the letter sent to Grameenphone on Sunday.
As part of the instructions, the regulatory authority has reduced the mobile number portability (MNP) lock-in period for Grameenphone which will be effective from July 1.
So any Grameenphone subscriber can now make a switch to another operator after 60 days of subscription. It is 90 days for the subscribers of other operators, though.
Also, taking approval for all existing and new services, packages, and offers has been made mandatory for the largest operator.
Earlier, on May 11, three other operators including the second-largest operator Robi Axiata Limited made an allegation to the BTRC saying: "Grameenphone was taking advantage of the Covid-19 situation and implementing marketing strategies in the name of corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts."
On May 8, Grameenphone had announced five new initiatives worth Tk100 crore including a 10 crore free minutes for its 1 crore identified prepaid customers.
Confirming the issuance of instructions against Grameenphone, the BTRC Chairman Md Jahurul Haque said, "To keep the market competitive, we issued the instructions for Grameenphone."
In February 2019, the BTRC announced Grameenphone an SMP operator based on its market share.
Fifteen months after that the regulatory body has now taken a tough stance on the operator by imposing restrictions.
Hossain Sadat, head of public and regulatory affairs at Grameenphone said, "The latest impositions deviate from the objectives of the SMP regulations and are not based on evidence of market failure. These asymmetric impositions are anti-competitive, which we believe are not in the interest of consumers and will hurt the national exchequer and the investment climate."
"We are in the process of further evaluating the letter and our way forward."
Grameenphone now has 74.361 million subscribers – 46 percent of the country's 162.920 million mobile users. And Robi has 30 percent of subscribers and Banglalink 21 percent.
However, the BTRC formulated the SMP guideline in November 2018.
As per the guideline, the regulator can impose some restrictions on an operator if it attains 40 percent of market share considering the number of subscribers, revenues, and spectrum or any of these categories.