The telecom regulator today scraped licences of 48 internet service providers after they failed to pay their renewal fees in time.
Of them, 25 are national ISPs and the rest are central zonal licences. These licences' tenure expired between 2012 to 2018, though some of them are still providing service to customers.
After taking this move, there are 133 national ISPs and 84 central zonal licences left in the country.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) issued notices today to this effect and also requested organisations not to do business with the ISPs under question.
The BTRC also directed the ISPs to clear all of their dues to the regulator. Otherwise, they will face legal action, according to the notice.
Officials of the regulator said that some of these ISPs are still in operation and that’s why regulator’s legal and licencing division requested its engineering and operation division to inspect their offices and take action against them.
A senior official said that within the next few days they will also move to cancel some more licences in different categories on the same ground.
Earlier, in different times the BTRC had cancelled 315 licences in a different category. And currently, there are 499 ISPs in Bangladesh, according to the BTRC website.
Apart from the national and central zoned licence, BTRC has four more categories of licences and the total number of ISPs licences is 1,502, according to its website.
BTRC suspends issuing NOC to GP, Robi
The telecom regulator has suspended issuing any approval to Grameenphone and Robi whether it is related with the new package, any kind of service or maintenance to create pressure on the operators to clear dues.
Today in two separate letters, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) informed both the operators about it.
Operators confirmed receiving the letters and said this move will impact their service quality.
Grameenphone in a statement today said they have received the letter and is it is now under their assessment.
“However, we are concerned over the BTRC decision to withhold NOCs (No Objection Certificates). We still believe that the best way to resolve our differences is through dialogue and arbitration.”
Shahed Alam, chief corporate and regulatory officer at Robi, said stopping the issuance of NOC as a replacement for the reduction of bandwidth will only increase the sufferings for the customers.
Last Wednesday, the telecom regulator had lifted the partial block on their bandwidth capacities and said issuing NOC would be blocked.
On June 4, the commission slashed Grameenphone’s bandwidth by 30 per cent and Robi’s by 15 per cent for non-payment of the dues -- enough to slow down the internet speed and raise the call drop frequency.
According to the BTRC’s audit, Grameenphone has Tk 12,579.95 crore pending while Robi Tk 867.24 crore and the two turned a deaf ear to the commission’s repeated claims.