Banglalink’s user numbers raise questions | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 05, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:16 PM, November 05, 2019

Banglalink’s user numbers raise questions

Two reports on same period mention different data

Banglalink has reported two different numbers of active subscribers in two separate reports—one submitted to the telecom regulator and the other to its parent company—with one being 5.77 percent higher than the other.

The third-largest mobile carrier in Bangladesh had a gap of 19.10 lakh active customers in the third quarter this year when the two reports are compared. 

As of September, the number of Banglalink’s active users stood at 3.50 crore, according to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). However, Banglalink’s parent company Veon reported the operator had 3.31 crore users at the end of the third quarter.

Both the reports were published yesterday.

“Veon’s calculation of customer number is slightly different from the one done locally,” said Taimur Rahman, chief corporate and regulatory affairs officer at Banglalink, while explaining the gap.  

For example, he said, the BTRC number considers any type of activity for a subscriber during the last 90 days, whereas Veon considers only specific usage as a standard for all of its customers across the world. 

“For this reason, there is a slight difference between the two numbers,” he told The Daily Star. 

When contacted, BTRC Chairman Md Jahurul Haque said there shouldn’t be any difference in numbers in the reports.

“If they [Banglalink or Veon] follow any other formula compared to what we have provided them, they will have to mention the basis for it in the report,” he said.

He said different types of reporting methods would only raise question about the books.

The gap in the number of customers is widening every quarter, but no such difference existed even a few years ago.

At the end of the April-June quarter, the gap in the number of active customers was 17.25 lakh as it was 3.45 crore as per the BTRC report and 3.29 crore as per the Veon report.  The gap was 14.01 lakh in the January-March quarter and 13.70 lakh at the end of 2018.

Banglalink’s revenue fell about 1 percent to Tk 1,143.51 crore in the July to September period this year, compared to the previous quarter, the Veon report said. 

However, the revenue growth was 3.84 percent year-on-year.

During the period, data usage and data revenue rose but the usage for voice call and earnings per customer declined in every month in the third quarter for the once spirited player.

Rahman said several changes brought to the tax regime in the second quarter caused the quarter-on-quarter revenue fall.

In the budget for the current fiscal year, supplementary duty rose from 5 percent to 10 percent on any telecom service. 

SIM tax increased from Tk 100 to Tk 200 and custom duties on smartphones were up from 10 percent to 25 percent.

Banglalink earned 20.54 percent of its total revenue from the mobile data segment, up from 16.88 percent a year ago.

Rahman said Banglalink’s data revenue went up on the back of its continuous efforts on reinforcing its position as a digital player.

The operator invested Tk 226.76 crore in the third quarter to continue 4G rollout and improve service quality.



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