Two state-run telecom firms—fixed phone operator BTCL and mobile operator Teletalk—owe the regulator around Tk 3,300 crore in the form of revenue sharing and spectrum fees.
Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL) was supposed to share more than Tk 1,700 crore revenue with the regulator as the operator became a company five years ago.
Teletalk has been using 3G spectrum for the last 16 months, but it is yet to clear spectrum fees worth around Tk 1,600 crore.
The BTCL is suffering from a serious fund crisis, as it now depends on its fixed deposit receipts to pay salaries to its employees,
Sunil Kanti Bose, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), told The Daily Star.
The telecom regulator has so far issued more than 25 letters to the BTCL, but the fixed-phone operator could not pay the dues as it failed to collect bills from its international gateways.
The audit department of the government has advised the regulator to collect the money by filing case under the Public Demands Recovery Act, according to the BTRC chief.
The regulator has sent the recommendation to the finance and telecom ministries for further action.
The BTCL could pay its outstanding bills in instalments, which could ease the pressure on the company, Bose said.
The fixed-phone company provides special services to the government by spreading its network up to the upazila level where it has a low customer base, he said.
So there is scope to give the company some time to clear the bills, he said.
Teletalk has so far deposited Tk 50 crore as 3G spectrum charges, Bose said.
The operator launched mobile services in the hilly regions and the Sundarbans areas, although it does earn much from there, he said.
Considering these, the telecom ministry has earlier requested the finance ministry to provide the amount that Teletalk owes to the regulator as equity, said Abubakar Siddique, the telecom secretary.
The government may also give Teletalk Tk 1,600 crore as loan to help it clear the bills, Bose said.
Teletalk is now in a better position compared to the previous years with its growing number of subscribers, he said.
The regulator has also recently served a notice on another mobile operator Citycell to clear Tk 255 crore as spectrum fees and revenue sharing in a month.
Later, the telecom ministry has given six months time to Citycell to pay the outstanding bills. But to take the offer, the operator will have to pay Tk 26 crore as revenue sharing charges by February 28.