GP files petition challenging SMP restrictions | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 29, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:37 AM, June 29, 2020

GP files petition challenging SMP restrictions

Grameenphone filed a writ petition before a High Court bench yesterday challenging a June 21 directive of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) alongside two restrictions imposed under significant market power (SMP) guidelines.

This is the third time the leading mobile network operator has legally challenged different points of the SMP guidelines. Court orders in the first two went in its favour.

According to the restrictions, scheduled to be implemented from July 1, Grameenphone would have to secure prior approval from the telecom regulator before rolling out any package or offer.

It will also have to have all of its existing packages and offers validated by August 31. Conditions of the approved packages or offers cannot be changed or amended without the watchdog's consent.

The BTRC also made it easier for subscribers to leave Grameenphone under mobile number portability (MNP) facility.

The BTRC was anticipating Grameenphone's move, said Chairman Md Jahurul Haque, adding that there was an imbalance in the market which needs to be corrected and the SMP was the only way to do so.

"We have a responsibility to bring the industry in line and enhance competition. That's why, we are trying to impose restrictions," he told this correspondent yesterday evening.

Barrister Mustafizur Rahman Khan, representing Grameenphone, confirmed the latest move and said the hearing might be held on Tuesday.

Sources in the mobile network carrier said the BTRC did not run any market survey and did not have any proof that Grameenphone was anticompetitive through any of its services or offers.

"We are not manipulating or controlling the market. Then why these restrictions? Even they didn't follow their own guidelines to issue these kinds of directives," a senior executive of the top carrier told The Daily Star.

Earlier in a second attempt, the BTRC had tried to impose four restrictions, including increasing the carrier's call rate and interconnection charge, but put it on hold in the latest directive considering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the SMP guideline, the regulator can declare a carrier an SMP operator if it controls more than 40 per cent share of any parameter.

Grameenphone holds 45.64 per cent share of the subscriber base and more than 50 per cent share of the revenue generated.

The number of active subscribers at Grameenphone stood at 7.65 crore, earning the carrier Tk 14,366 crore at the end of 2019. It logged a record Tk 3,452 crore profit last year, the highest to date.

The telecom regulator has been working on the SMP issue since 2011. The BTRC formed a committee to devise a process to implement it. 

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