Cost of internet use to rise
The cost of internet use may rise, as the expenses of the internet service providers are expected to increase due to a regulatory move.
Last week, the telecom regulator recommended the government ask the internet service providers to share 2 percent of their revenue with the BTRC and increase their licence and annual fees.
The internet service providers will have to share 1 percent of their gross revenue with the regulator and another 1 percent for the social obligation fund, according to the proposals of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
The increased licence and annual fees—which were earlier Tk 1 lakh for each nationwide licence—will be set at Tk 25 lakh and Tk 5 lakh respectively.
To bear the increased cost, the operators may have to compromise with the service quality or put pressure on the end users, said MA Hakim, president of Internet Service Providers' Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB).
The fee for zonal licence—which the BTRC termed as the licence for urban category in its new proposal—will be Tk 15 lakh up from Tk 50,000. The licence fees and renewal charges for other categories will also be increased.
To renew the licences, all of the 590 internet service providers of the country will have to pay at the rate of the new licence fee, according to the recommendations.
Cyber cafes with trade licences will be exempted from the rule of notifying the regulator before starting a business, which was mandatory earlier.
The cyber cafes will have no obligation to the regulator if the new proposals are implemented, Hakim said. “This can create security concern.”
Currently, there are 44 lakh fixed internet connections in the country and every connection has dozens of users.
Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of BTRC, said they will review the recommendation if they see the new rules are increasing the cost of the end users.
Imdadul Haque, general secretary of ISPAB, termed the new proposal a conspiracy against the internet industry.
He said the government wants to reduce the cost of internet use but BTRC's new proposal will hinder the growth of the sector.
The telecom regulator did not consult the internet service providers before drafting the recommendations, ISPAB leaders said, adding that the BTRC should review the proposals.
The internet service providers said they have already called a meeting and will raise voice against the regulatory move.