Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has rejected the arbitration call from two leading telecommunication operators over its action against them.
BTRC on Thursday directed the International Internet Gateway (IIG) operators to slash 30 percent bandwidth of Grameenphone and 15 percent of Robi over non-payment of dues-- Tk 12,579 crore from Grameenphone and Tk 867.24 crore from Robi, according to BTRC audit.
Grameenphone – a unit of Telenor – said the crisis will affect the customers and businesses and hinted at seeking court intervention.
Grameenphone Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Michael Patrick Foley requested BTRC in a press conference on Sunday to back off from its move and cooperate in resolving the audit demand through a constructive arbitration process under the Arbitration Act 2001.
Soon after the press conference, BTRC rejected the arbitration proposal from the mobile operators.
The GP CEO addressed the press at a city hotel and termed the regulator’s move “inappropriate” and illegal.”
“We believe this move is illegal, and we will seek intervention of the court against this unconscionable decision,” said Foley.
In response, BTRC said paying the dues will normalize the situation over bandwidth block.
However, BTRC “welcomes” the mobile phone companies for discussion, its Chairman Md Jahurul Haque said.
According to the BTRC, Grameenphone has 7.48 crore active connections while Robi has 4.77 crore connections till May – and half of the customers use Internet.
“The move ultimately will affect the customer in terms of quality of services, especially making phone calls and using Internet,” GP’s Foley said.
Echoing his business competitor, Robi’s Chief Corporate and Regulatory Officer Shahed Alam told the press Sunday, “We believe arbitration is the best solution.”
BTRC Chairman opposed it saying, “There is no provision of arbitration for solving the issue under BTRC Law.”
“The situation can only improve if they pay their dues. Otherwise, the commission must consider tougher moves including their license cancellation in future.”
Responding to a question, the BTRC chief said, “We would like to say sorry to the users for the inconveniences. But we had to be tough for greater interest.”
BTRC, the telecom regulator, took such punitive measures for the first time against the operators.