For the first time, significant market power (SMP) restrictions have come into effect on the country's largest telecom operator Grameenphone from today.
According to SMP guidelines, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) can put an SMP label and subsequent restrictions on a network operator if it controls more than 40 percent market share in terms of the number of subscribers, revenues, and spectrum or any of these categories.
The regulations were initiated in 2011 by the BTRC and was finalised in November 2018.
In February last year, the commission declared Grameenphone an SMP operator but it managed to put the effectuation on halt by challenging the decision in the court.
However in June this year, the BTRC issued three directives under the SMP guidelines as the High Court rejected Grameenphone's appeal and ordered enforcement of the SMP guidelines.
Out of the three directives, two have come into effect today and the remaining one will take effect on July 16.
From today, it is mandatory for the largest telecom operator to seek approval from the regulatory authority for introducing any new packages and offers and it will have to validate the existing packages and offers by August 31.
As per the second condition, the regulatory authority has reduced the mobile number portability (MNP) lock-in period for Grameenphone.
Any Grameenphone subscriber, therefore, can now switch to another operator after 60 days of subscription. The period is a 90-day one for the subscribers of other operators.
Moreover, Grameenphone will have to pay 3 paisa more for per minute calls its subscribers make to the other three non-SMP operators' network, according to the third condition that has been set to go into effect from July 16.
At present, the interconnection cost is 10 paisa a minute for everyone.
Meanwhile, on June 29, Grameenphone filed a writ petition at the High Court challenging the latest BTRC directives.
Grameenphone's lawyer Barrister Mustafizur Rahman Khan told the press that the company filed a writ petition and concerned officials, including the BTRC chairman, have been made respondents in the writ.
Earlier on June 21, 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," he added.
Grameenphone currently has 74.361 million subscribers – 46 percent of the country's 162.920 million mobile users, while other operators like - Robi has 30 percent and Banglalink has 21 percent.