GP faces fresh restrictions
The telecom regulator has decided to increase the floor price of Grameenphone's call rate by 5 paisa to Tk 0.50 a minute from June as part of the restrictions of being declared a significant market power (SMP) player.
Currently, the minimum call rate is Tk 0.45 a minute and after adding the value-added tax and other duties it goes up to Tk 0.54 to any operator. But for Grameenphone it will be about Tk 0.61 a minute.
However, the hike in minimum call rate is unlikely to impact the existing Grameenphone users as the operator is already charging much higher than the floor price, said Md Jahurul Haque, chairman of the telecom watchdog.
Grameenphone's average call rate is now Tk 0.70 a minute, according to their financial statement.
The higher floor price is one of the four restrictions that the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has come up with for the country's leading mobile operator.
The telecom regulator yesterday sent a letter to Grameenphone informing the impending four restrictions and sought the operator's feedback on them.
"We have given them 15 days' time. After that we will impose our decisions from the start of June," Haque said.
The market leader will also have to pay 5 paisa more to other operators for calls its subscribers make to another network.
At present, the interconnection cost is 10 paisa a minute. But for Grameenphone it will be 15 paisa, according to the letter. And this extra charge cannot be passed on to their customers.
Grameenphone sends about seven crore minutes of calls to other operators in a day and it receives about 10 crore minutes from the others. Thanks to this gap the market leader earns handsome revenue every day.
With this regulation the gap between the operators will reduce and will create a balance between the operators, said the BTRC chief.
In the third restriction, the BTRC has made it easier for a user to leave Grameenphone under the mobile number portability facility.
Currently, if a subscriber wants to switch to another network, he/she will have to stay with the new carrier for at least 90 days. But such subscribers can abandon Grameenphone after 30 days.
The final restriction stipulates prior approval from the telecom regulator before Grameenphone rolls out any package. The operator also needs to take approval for its existing packages and offers from the regulator.
Currently, operators can rollout packages just by informing the telecom regulator.
Md Hasan, a deputy general manager of Grameenphone, acknowledged receiving the letter from the BTRC and the operator will respond after assessing the contents of the letter.
Earlier on February 11, the BTRC declared Grameenphone as the country's first SMP operator seeing that its revenue share is more than 50 percent and customer share about 47 percent.
On February 18, the operator was slapped with four restrictions that the operator challenged in court and prevailed. On March 19, the BTRC scrapped the process and started afresh.