Operators mull court move against telecom law | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 23, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 23, 2010

Operators mull court move against telecom law


Oddvar Hesjedal, third from left, chief executive officer of Grameenphone, speaks at a press meet of Association of Mobile Telecom Operators in Bangladesh at The Westin Dhaka yesterday. Ahmed Abou Doma, CEO of Banglalink, Michael Kuehnar, CEO of Robi, Chris Tobit, CEO of Warid Telecom, Mehboob Chowdhury, CEO of Citycell, and Mujibur Rahman of the state owned TeleTalk, are also seen.Photo: STAR

Six mobile operators plan to seek judicial intervention as the last resort to preventing the upcoming telecom law, which they say will create a setback for the industry.
However, the top brasses of these operators said they hope the government will not pass the law that is 'unfriendly' to the growing telecom and ICT sector, as it promised a digital Bangladesh.
"We may seek court's intervention, if parliament passes the bill,” Oddvar Hesjedal, chief executive officer of Grameenphone, told a press conference at Dhaka Westin hotel in the capital yesterday.
Ahmed Abou Doma, CEO of Banglalink, Michael Kuehnar, CEO of Robi, Chris Tobit, CEO of Warid Telecom, Mehboob Chowdhury, CEO of Citycell and and Mujibur Rahman, managing director of the state-owned TeleTalk, were present.
The press meet was organised by the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators in Bangladesh to react to taxes on the telecom industry and the bill that proposed amendments to the Bangladesh Telecommuni-cation Act 2010.
The bill was placed in parliament on June 13 and later sent to the parliamentary standing committee on posts and telecommunication ministry for further scrutiny.
The caretaker government through an ordinance introduced the tough law for the sector in December 2008. Subsequently, the elected government did not ratify the law in parliament with an objective to make it more industry- friendly in line with the idea of a digital Bangladesh.
However, it is a matter of worry for the operators that the bill has kept intact almost everything proposed by the then interim government, according to Zakiul Islam, the operators' association president. Islam presented a keynote paper at the press meet.
He pointed out that the bill had left no room for any appeal against any regulatory decision by any operator. The draft law allows law enforcers to arrest any official of the telecom industry without a warrant.
An individual could face imprisonment of up to five years, or a maximum fine of Tk 300 crore or both for "activities against national harmony, public security and friendly relations with neighbouring countries" through the use of telecom or radio apparatus, according to the bill.
It also envisages supreme power for the telecom ministry, which could do anything it likes to rein in the sector, instead of the existing independent body – Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.
When his attention was drawn to the matter, the TeleTalk managing director said, "As an operator, we also move together with other operators against the law. It's a question of ensuring a level playing field."
The law is nothing but putting aside the growing investment of Bangladesh's telecom sector, said Ahmed Abou Doma.
The customer base of Bangladesh's six mobile operators reached more than 58 million as of May 2010. The mobile penetration rate is 35 percent.
The Grameenphone chief said it would be perfect if the government follows the Telecom Act 2001.
"We don't know what will happen in the future," he said.
However Warid CEO Chris Tobit is a bit optimistic. "We believe that the bill will not be passed by parliament.”

Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Grameenphone and Robi:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222

Banglalink:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

Leave your comments

Top News

Top News

Top