The telecom regulator is set to issue two separate show cause notices to Grameenphone and Robi asking them to reply within 30 days why their licences will not be cancelled despite violating the licensing conditions by not paying the telecom regulator’s ‘dues’.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has demanded Tk 12,579.95 crore from Grameenphone and Tk 867.24 crore from Robi as per the finding of the audits into the two operators’ books.
On Sunday, the BTRC has sent their recommendations to the posts and telecom division and sought the government’s approval on the show cause notices.
As per the telecom act, the BTRC will have to take prior approval from the government to issue show cause notice aiming to cancel any licence or start any licence cancelling procedure.
Telecom Minister Mustafa Jabbar said they have received BTRC’s recommendation and are now working on it.
“We will analyse the related acts and laws in this regard and then we will move for our decision,” Jabbar told The Daily Star yesterday. He said this will be a very tough decision and will not be arrived at in a rush.
“As a regulator the BTRC has the right to send this type of recommendation to us and they did it. Now we will consider all the related issues and make our decision,” he added.
Earlier in a commission meeting on July 25, the telecom watchdog made the decision to seek approval from the government in this regard referring to the telecom act’s section 46.
As per that section, the telecom regulator can cancel the licence and appoint an administrator if their response is not satisfactory.
A senior official of the BTRC said they will issue the letter to the two operators, which have more than 12 crore active mobile connections between them, soon after getting the approval from the government.
Both the mobile operators declined to comment on the matter.
However, senior officials of the two operators said upon condition of anonymity there are clear procedures to recovery any public money from any entity and the telecom regulator is not following that.
“We want to see an amicable solution and here the government can play an important role,” said TIM Nurul Kabir, a former secretary general of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB).
Kabir said they are going through the differences between the operators and the regulator.
Operators said they will try to convince the authorities to follow the procedure and move for arbitration.
A senior executive of a mobile operator said they may even consider moving to the international court to get a solution on the issue and that would be a disaster for industry and the country.
“The telecom regulator is not follo-
wing proper laws and is even not considering the consequence of this to the country’s position in the international arena. They are only trying use their power to gain the money in an unlawful way,” said the senior executive, requesting anonymity.
Earlier on July 4, the BTRC had slashed Grameenphone’s bandwidth by 30 percent and Robi’s by 15 percent for non-payment of the dues -- enough to slow down their internet speed and raise the call drop frequency.
But the block on bandwidth was lifted on July 17 considering the inconvenience it was causing to subscribers and on
July 22 BTRC decided not to give any kind of approval to Grameenphone and Robi to roll out new package or service or import network equipment -- to pile on the pressure on the operators to clear their dues.