Flat call rate, price ceiling for mobile data on cards

The government has moved to fix a flat call rate for mobile phone operators to eliminate the existing off-net and on-net charge gap with a view to helping smaller operators survive in the era of intense competition.

Off-net charges are applicable to calls made within a similar network while on-net charges are applied to calls from one operator to another operator. 

The telecom regulator will also fix the lower and higher prices of data for mobile internet. The decisions came at a meeting at Gono Bhaban on Monday chaired by Sajeeb Wazed Joy, ICT affairs adviser of the prime minister.

“We have already run a cost modeling on data service by the International Telecommunication Union experts and it will be implemented within a month to fix the lower and upper rate of mobile internet,” Mustafa Jabbar, telecom minister, told The Daily Star yesterday. He said the off-net and on-net charges create a disparity between the big and small operators and the government wants to remove it.

Right now, there is no fixed data price. However, the operators have to compete within the fixed rate of Tk 0.25 to Tk 2 a minute set by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission for the voice segment.

The new government move is aimed at protecting customers from bill shock when the mobile number portability is introduced. Last year, the BTRC recommended the government fix a flat rate to protect smaller operators.

Except the top player, all operators have repeatedly called for the BTRC's intervention for their survival, industry insiders said.

The telecom minister also said the government would bring down the number of packages as there many of them sometimes confuse customers.

The minister said the BTRC would work to improve the service quality as the network's ongoing shift towards the fourth-generation data technology has worsened the overall service quality.

“The operators have assured us that the service quality will improve within next month.”


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