EC server crashes derange SIM sales
Mobile operators' SIM sales, deactivation and replacement services have been severely disrupted in the last two months due to failure to get access to the Election Commission database.
The government has made biometric registration mandatory for SIM ownership, so access to the server, which is the only source of fingerprint data, is fundamental for mobile operators.
But the operators encountered problems in accessing the fingerprint database for repeated crashes of the EC's National Identification Data server.
The conversion of SIMs to provide 4G services is also facing delays for the same reason, said the operators, who are gearing up for the roll out of the new technology in a couple of months' time.
The operators say the disruption arose on at least 10 days and lasted for a total of 29 hours and 52 minutes, including peak hours. The worst interruption was on November 8, when the server could not be accessed from 6:00am to 3:44pm.
Helaluddin Ahmed, secretary to the Election Commission, acknowledged the frequent server crashes but declined to elaborate further on the matter.
The mobile operators' services and businesses are being interrupted considerably due to the EC server going down, said TIM Nurul Kabir, secretary general of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh.
Subsequently, he sent a letter to the EC on November 29 seeking immediate measures to mitigate the problem. A copy was also forwarded to the Bangladesh Tele-communication Regulatory Commission.
This recent disruption is causing general dissatisfaction amongst customers, the letter said. Customers had to provide fingerprints several times for biometric verification while instant SIM activation was also being hampered.
A senior EC official said they needed to run maintenance work frequently and that might be causing the disruptions.
In the letter, Amtob asked the EC to identify the root cause of the disruptions and ensure that the requisite technical maintenance work is completed so that partnered services can be provided smoothly.
They also requested the EC to inform the mobile operators of maintenance work beforehand and appoint a point of contact for direct communication over any problem and for effective feedbacks on issues raised.
In most cases, problems related to servers going down create misunderstandings between customers and operators, retailers and distributors, said Yasir Azman, deputy chief executive officer and chief marketing officer of Grameenphone.
There have been cases where the customers' fingerprints matched but the information provided in relevant forms were incorrect, leaving the door open for disputes to arise in future.
"We have no mechanism to verify the other information," he said, while calling for the problems to be resolved as soon as possible.