Grameenphone was yesterday slapped with four restrictions by the telecom regulator as part of the penalties for becoming a Significant Market Power (SMP).
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) asked the operator to immediately implement the restrictions, which include a ban on signing any exclusive deals with goods and service providers.
Currently, the vendors are allowed to extend offers to only Grameenphone customers, shutting out other operators from negotiating such deals.
The acceptable call drop for Grameen-phone has been set at no more than 2 percent.
According to a market drive report run by the regulator in November 6 to 8, Grameenphone's call drop rate was found to be 3.38 percent, which is higher than its competitors.
The BTRC has asked Grameenphone not to conduct a nationwide ad campaigns on the back of its dominance.
In the fourth point, the telecom watchdog has made it easier for a user to leave Grameenphone under the mobile number portability facility. Currently, if a subscriber wants to switch to a network they will have to stay with the new carrier at least for 90 days. But such subscribers can quit the Grameenphone network after 30 days.
BTRC Chairman Md Jahurul Haque said the restrictions will bring a balance to the industry.
The operator's woes do not stop here: it stands to face comparatively tougher restrictions in the future.
In another letter, the telecom regulator said it would evaluate the situation related to the four restrictions within six months and can add new restrictions. Afterwards, the situation will be evaluated every year.
As the next wave of restrictions, the BTRC may consider different termination rate for GP. Currently, for receiving a call from other operators, GP gets Tk 0.10 and vice versa.
The regulator is also considering imposing a bar on the operator from providing cross-subsidy on mobile data and separating the accounts for data and voice.
The market leader will also get restrictions on spectrum pricing and infrastructure sharing, can get different voice rate and different data floor price.
The regulator can also charge GP for green technology and renewable energy. For the SMP operator, merger and acquisition threshold might be different. Its package approval process might be tougher if the regulator wants.
GP declined to make a comment on the matter.
Earlier on February 11 the BTRC declared GP as the SMP operator for cornering 40 percent of the subscribers, revenues and spectrum.
The commission has found GP as the SMP in two categories: subscribers and revenue.
In 2018, the operator has 46.33 percent share of the active customer base. For the last few years, its revenue share has been more than 50 percent.
Last year, GP's total number of active SIMs stood at 7.27 crore and revenue Tk 13,280 crore. It logged in a record Tk 3,520 crore profit last year.