Cable TV operators and internet service providers, in the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), have incurred an estimated loss of Tk25 crore due to the removal of hanging cables in the capital without any alternative technical measures.
Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB) and Cable Operators Association of Bangladesh (COAB) jointly made the claim at a press conference at the National Press Club on Monday afternoon.
They also have set a deadline of 17 October to fix the issue. If the hanging wires are disconnected past the deadline, the two associations warned that internet and cable TV services would be suspended every day from 18 October from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.
ISPAB President MA Hakim told The Business Standard that the hanging cable removal drive currently underway has caused a financial loss of around Tk20 crore in the DSCC areas alone.
"Besides, about Tk5 crore additional has been spent on set boxes, travel, extra salaries for staff and other technical assistance. In total, we are facing a loss of around Tk25 crore to reconnect and disconnect the wires," he said.
He also said that the annual registration fee of the ISP was fixed at Tk25 lakh, which was not reasonable.
At the press conference, they announced a symbolic programme to shut down internet and cable TV services across the country from 10 am to 1 pm every day from 18 October.
Until the issue is resolved, they will continue this symbolic suspension of internet data connectivity and cable TV services at all levels, including homes, offices, courts and banks for three hours a day.
The leaders of the two organizations also drew the attention of the Prime Minister and the mayor of DSCC to solve the problem.
SM Anwar Parvez, the founding president of COAB, said, "The City Corporation is working to unilaterally remove the hanging wires without alternative arrangements. Consequently, several lakhs of subscribers are not being able to enjoy uninterrupted internet and television services."
Besides, if the situation is not resolved, more than one lakh employees of around 1,000 legitimate service providers will be in uncertainty, he added.
The demands of ISPAB and COAB are --
- No hanging wires can be removed until the last mile cable issue is permanently resolved.
- A committee consisting of ISPAB, COAB, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN) and City Corporations will have to conduct a field-level investigation to ensure the set-up of the last mile cable.
- The prices of internet and cable TV services should be fixed by the Ministry concerned at all levels.
- The government should fix the price of NTTN to provide low-cost consumer-level internet and cable TV services.
- Arrangements need to be made to verify the capability of the NTTN to ensure uninterrupted services at the customer level.
The operators, under the NTTN, pull the connection lines of internet and cable TV through electricity poles instead of supplying through underground lines.
The service providers are not adhering to the court order to remove lines from the poles.
The City Corporation started removing the wires from 1 August, but the service providers are pulling the wires again to provide new connections.