The telecom regulator is set to issue a pricing guideline for operators, especially mobile carriers, for providing internet services.
The move comes as the price of internet is not declining at the user level despite significant cuts in bandwidth prices.
At the inaugural public hearing held last week, mobile users complained about the higher price of mobile data services. “So, to get a clear picture and to set a pricing benchmark we decided to do a cost modelling of data service of operators,” said Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.
A team of the International Telecommunication Union is due to start the cost modelling next month, he said.
Earlier in 2009, the BTRC had done a similar cost modelling in association with the ITU for voice calls and set a tariff for the service. At present, the data service prices are set by the operators, with the regulator having no benchmark to check the rationality of the pricing. “We understand that the bandwidth is only one of the components of the total cost but it is a pricey one and there should be some impact at the end user level when we reduce it. But the telecom companies seem to disagree, so we decided to do a cost modelling for that.”
The government reduced the internet bandwidth price to as low as Tk 625 a megabyte last year, which was Tk 72,000 eight years back.
In its cost modelling for the voice segment, the BTRC has fixed Tk 2 per minute as the upper limit and Tk 0.25 as the lower limit. For SMS, the BTRC has set the ceiling of Tk 0.50. Operators can play between the prices. Mahmood said since they have a cost modelling method for voice segment, they can change some of the benchmarks and amend the charges from time to time as per demand.