Mobile networks hit by nor'wester
Mobile subscribers are experiencing network problems in different parts of the country as operators are facing severe power shortage over the last few days brought about by the nor'wester.
In most of the cases, the power department officials had switched off the supply before storm for safety but they did not switch it back on for a few hours after the nor'wester had passed.
It is these extra hours that the operators could not handle with their back-up power supply, said top executives of different carriers.
Until yesterday, about 60 percent of the towers of the top operators did not have power from the national grid for hours and of them about 15 to 20 percent saw their backup power system run down as well, said top officials of the mobile operators.
Until noon yesterday, about 8,000 of the 13,000 sites of market leader Grameenphone did not have power connection, and of them about 1,500 sites' backup support also went down, said Mahmud Hossain, its chief corporate affairs officer.
"Definitely the power shortage has caused a lot of harm to our network and our subscribers." Hossain said.
Nor'wester sometimes makes the mobile operators' tower equipment like antenna unstable. "We can fix our network within a short time if we get the power back in a short span," he added. Robi, the country's second largest operator, did not mention how many of its towers were affected but acknowledged that it has been hit by the power outage in Mymensingh, Netrokona and some parts of Kishoreganj areas after Friday's nor'wester.
The operator also faced challenges in some parts of Chittagong and Sylhet on Thursday and Friday, but they have restored their network on Friday afternoon in Sylhet, said its top officials.
In the last two weeks, 20 percent of the mobile sites were out of power on an average but the past two days were terrible, said a top official of Banglalink.
The mobile operators have already informed the telecom regulator about their predicament; if the situation lasts long it will be a huge blow to their business.
Arranging the huge backup power system has increased the operators' costs, said TIM Nurul Kabir, secretary general of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh.
"This power failure is also creating huge problems on the citizens' daily lives, especially in rural areas, and we are urging the policymakers to count telecom infrastructure as Key Point Installation (KPI)," Kabir said.
The government declares the KPI status for the infrastructure that is very sensitive and important.