A restrictive regulatory regime is one of the critical challenges to achieving the mobile network operators' vision of reducing the digital divide among the people.
Chief executive officers (CEOs) of the telecom companies in the country made the statement at a webinar held on Saturday.
They urged the authorities concerned to reduce tax rates and make an empowered regulator rather than a restrictive one.
The webinar called "Role of Telecoms in Accelerating Digital Bangladesh" was jointly organised by the CTO Forum and the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (Amtob).
At the panel discussion, Amtob President Mahtab Uddin Ahmed said, "We have been talking for a long time about how to reduce the divide between the rich and poor."
"Our vision is to bring digital benefits to every household. If we do not achieve this, then another digital divide will be created," he added.
Pointing out the challenges behind this vision, Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, managing director and CEO of Robi Axiata Limited, said, "The restrictive regulatory regime is one of the critical challenges for telecom companies in achieving their vision where licenses are very restrictive, taxes and spectrum prices are unreasonably high."
To overcome this situation, he suggested ending the restrictive regulatory regime and ensuring an integrated approach.
Mustafa Jabbar, minister of posts and telecommunications, endorsed the Amtob president's claim.
"We have some shortcomings in our telecom policies and directives. However, we have been working to resolve them since I took the charge of the division in 2018," he said.
Tapan Kanti Sarkar, founder and president of CTO Forum Bangladesh, presided over the discussion, while Mohammad Ali, additional managing director Pubali Bank Ltd and secretary general of CTO forum Bangladesh, moderated it.
Azman, CEO of the country's largest mobile network operator Grameenphone, said the industry has always been contributing to the development of the economy.
"But that existence of telecoms was like any other product that has been consumed. In the digital economy, the contribution of telecoms has significantly changed where it is being used to deliver a product and service to its end consumers," he added.
He said that the role of the telecoms sector in the digital economy in the future is going to be accelerated to the multiplayer level.
Talking about the prospects of 5G technology and challenges, Banglalink CEO Erik Aas said they are very enthusiastic about being a part of that ecosystem.
"We believe 5G will be the first and foremost urban-focused technology due to cost and availability. Therefore, many people will be disappointed if we go to 5G with the current infrastructure," he said.
Abul Kashem Md Shirin, managing director and CEO of Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited, said digital banking is almost impossible without the help of telecoms companies.
"Besides easing the digital transaction, telecoms have also built customers' trust in the banking system," he said.
Among others, Md Shahab Uddin, managing director of state-owned Teletalk Bangladesh Limited, and Md Mohsinul Alam, director general of the Department of Telecommunications, also spoke at the webinar.