outside the house, wires of every size, shape, colour and
genre are visible. They hang above ground, run underground
or simply lie on the ground (in the case of this ever-developing
country). One of these innumerable wires connects the telephone
line to a switchboard. It is impossible to tell just by looking
that this single, innocent looking wire allows countless problems
to arise. Maybe the problem is not just with the wire but
with everything that it touches. Landlines are a menace to
of the telephone is no doubt,an amazing one. Unfortunately,
Alexander Graham Bell's brilliant concept, meant to lessen
communication troubles, is not one that has been fully appreciated
by the people who run Bangladesh's TNT lines.
hassles that come with trying to obtain a landline are endless.
First of all, there is the bakshish needed to simply
get the process started. Then comes the waiting. Though it
seems endless, it is not idle for during this waiting period
comes the scurrying around, trying to find someone who could
help. Connections, so to speak. Of course, most of these "connections"
have to be given a little present as well (something preferably
of the monetary variety).
extra-special connection has procured you the phone line,
you'd think everything would fall into the "happily ever
after" category. Wrong. Next comes maintenance. Landlines
have frequent problems that need correcting, along the lines
of a severed wire that allows floodwaters to invade the line
or an errant rat chewing off bits of it. The customer has
to pay first and then wait for the lines to be fixed. There
are even times where one has to pay in order to get the telephone
is no difficulty in seeing that sorting through such matters
is bound to raise any person's blood pressure. So what is
a possible, somewhat doable solution to an incessantly recurring
aggravation? Bangladesh's landlines are implemented and monitored
by the government. The government (whichever party is ruling
at the moment) has a monopoly over every aspect: the rates,
the exchanges, and the efficiency. With no other company there
to challenge the landline business, the employees are free
to do whatever they wish, with no fear of repercussions. The
only way to rectify this is to privatise the sector. No one
has heard of this type of nonsense going on with cell phones
ever since an initial monopolisation left customers unsatisfied.
The reason is purely because the cell phone companies have
competition and live with the constant insecurity that customers
will switch to another company if they are not kept satisfied.
The TNT does not have any such fear.
countries have privatised landline companies, having realised
the need for them. Now, even Latin America intends to have
their telecommunications TNT sector privatised. It is high
time for Bangladesh to do the same.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004