Govt counts losses as IGW cartel rigs call prices
The government is losing Tk 55 lakh a day on average due to manipulation of international incoming call prices by a cartel over the last couple of months.
As is practice, when a call comes from abroad, the international gateway (IGW), the mobile operator, the interconnection exchange and Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission receive revenues from the foreign call carrier.
In September last year, the government set the international incoming call termination rate at 1.5 cents per minute. Of the amount, the BTRC gets 40 percent.
On September 24 this year, the International Gateway Operators Forum (IOF), a cartel of seven IGWs authorised to terminate foreign calls, increased the rate to 2 cents per minute.
But the IGWs are sharing revenues with the government at the previous termination rate of 1.5 cents per minute.
As a result, the government is counting Tk 55 lakh in lost revenues a day, according to an estimate of the BTRC. The regulator has informed the government of the matter. Mobile and other operators are also incurring losses. Telecom Secretary Md Faizur Rahman Chowdhury said the government needs to get to the bottom of the matter. “We will look into it and try to find out the reason,” Chowdhury said yesterday.
After the hike in the call termination rate, the incoming call volume has dropped to 93 million minutes a day from 105 million minutes, the BTRC said in a letter to the telecom ministry. An official of the BTRC's engineering and operation division said illegal calls have increased after the hike in the rate, which explains the drop in call volume.
On Sunday, the incoming call volume stood at only 81 million minutes, the official said, asking not to be named.
A surveillance team of the BTRC also found a big chunk of equipment that is used to terminate illegal calls, at Azimpur in Dhaka yesterday. Khandakar Muzharul Haque, deputy chief executive officer of the IOF, declined to comment on the matter.