None of the mobile operators can maintain the required 4G speed of 7 megabytes per second in any of the four divisions of Khulna, Rajshahi, Barishal and Rangpur, the telecom regulator found in a recent speed test.
And in some cases, the operators are offering half the threshold speed in the name of 4G within the big cities, according to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
“This is a horrible situation and we need to be strict on the service quality,” BTRC Chairman Md Jahurul Haque told The Daily Star yesterday.
There are provisions in the law to punish the mobile operators for misleading customers, he said.
Mobile operators, however, disputed the findings of the speed test, saying their actual speed is much higher than what is mentioned in the report.
“Everybody needs to bear in mind that a drive test doesn't give a definitive picture of the overall state of quality of service -- it only gives an indication of a service at a specific time at a specific place,” said Shahed Alam, head of corporate and regulatory affairs at Robi.
The operator itself conducts similar drive tests regularly to assess its service quality.
“Since the regulator hadn't shared the detailed data of the drive test, it is difficult for us to make a conclusion on our service quality based on their test results,” he added.
Another top official of a mobile operator upon condition of anonymity said the carrier uses the latest world-class telecom equipment but its service quality is compromised by sub-par transmission network, which is out of its hands.
At the same time, there is a scarcity of spectrum as the government fixed such a high price for it.
“These two are the lifelines for telecom service anywhere and if government fails to understand the ecosystem the service will never improve,” he added.
Before the finalisation of the quality of service requirement, all the operators informed the BTRC that the speed of a particular technology cannot be guaranteed in a wireless environment, said Taimur Rahman, chief corporate and regulatory affairs officer of Banglalink. And the speed considered for 4G in Bangladesh is not practical as per the economics of spectrum cost and revenues.
“That is why, as we had predicted, the operators could not meet some of the expectations in the surveyed regions.”
It is also to be mentioned that the overall quality of the service depends not only on a mobile operator's network, but also on other parties such as NTTN, ICX, IGW etc., he added.
State-run operator Teletalk remained out of the purview of the speed test as it is yet to roll out 4G outside of Dhaka. However, Teletalk's 3G service failed to meet the desired speed mentioned by the telecom regulator.
Even the country's second largest operator Robi failed to maintain the required speed for 3G, which is 2 Mbps, in Khulna division, according to the report.
The BTRC started the drive test in January 7 from Barishal division and concluded it on 24 February in Rangpur division.
The team also have logged in 5,650 voice calls of at least 90 seconds each to measure the quality of voice service.
SERVICE WORST IN BARISHAL DIVISION
The mobile operators are offering the worst 4G speed in Barishal division.
Banglalink's average speed for 4G download speed in the division was only 3.56mbps, Robi's was 4.89mbps and Grameenphone's 5.1mbps.
Calls must be connected successfully within 7 seconds and in this category too all four operators were found lagging in the division.