Grameenphone vents out against SMP restrictions | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 21, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:34 AM, February 21, 2019

Grameenphone vents out against SMP restrictions

Says conditions discourage fair competition

Grameenphone yesterday griped about the restrictions imposed on it for being a significant market power (SMP) operator, saying the measures penalise efficiency and timely investments rather than enhance competition.

“The purpose of SMP directives must be to build competition and not defeat success,” said Hossain Sadat, head of regulatory affairs of Grameenphone, in a briefing session with journalists yesterday.

Earlier this week, Grameenphone was slapped with four restrictions -- that must be implemented immediately -- by the telecom regulator as part of the penalties for becoming an SMP.

The restrictions comprise of bans on signing any exclusive deals with goods and service providers and nationwide ad campaigns, a lower call drop ceiling and a shorter lock-in period when availing the mobile number portability service.

“The objective of the regulations was to ensure healthy competition in the telecom sector but I don't know how it would support competition in the market.”

Rather, the restrictions were designed to transfer business from Grameenphone to the other three operators.

“SMP directives should not be used to restrict the ability for entities to grow, innovate and invest.” Furthermore, the Bangladesh Telecommuni-cation Regulatory Commission did not follow the global best practices when announcing Grameenphone an SMP operator and the penalties thereafter, Sadat said.

The BTRC declared Grameenphone an SMP operator on February 11 for cornering 40 percent of the subscribers and revenue.

Grameenphone pointed out that there is another parameter that must be met as per rules for declaring an operator an SMP: spectrum holdings. “Presently, none of the operators hold more than 40 percent of the allotted spectrum,” Sadat said, adding that there is no evidence of abuse of dominant position or anti-competitive behaviour.

Subsequently, the SMP directives imposed on it run counter to the principles of fair competition and are ultimately detrimental to creating value for customers.

He singled out the ban on Grameenphone from running marketing campaigns as an anti-competitive move.

“Getting information regarding products and packages is a customer's right. How will customers know what Grameenphone is offering?” The operators should be able to flourish on their own merit, he said.

In future, Grameenphone might have to make certain contribution to social obligation fund and corporate social responsibility as part of its penalties. “Those issues have no connection with expanding market competition,” Sadat added.

Meanwhile, BTRC is likely to bring in some changes to the restrictions placed on Grameenphone, especially pertaining media campaigns, said a high official of the telecom regulator.

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