12:00 AM, July 13, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 13, 2018

Telcos to explain why they failed to circulate PM's Eid greetings

The BTRC has issued two notices within a span of seven days asking Grameenphone, Robi and Banglalink to explain why an Eid-ul-Fitr greeting of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had not been sent out to subscribers.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) sent the 44-second voice SMS to all four telecom operators in the country on June 14, seeking its dissemination by June 16, or Eid day.

Licensing conditions stipulate that telecom operators disseminate any information provided by the government free of cost, said officials.

Only state-run Teletalk complied with the regulatory order, said Md Rezaul Quader, acting chairman of BTRC.

The telecom watchdog issued the first notice last week and all three operators replied to it on time.

Later, the regulator formed a five-member committee led by one of its director generals, Brigadier General Md Mustafa Kamal, to investigate the matter in five workdays and take punitive measures if any of the three were found guilty.

The inquiry panel issued the second notice on July 10. The operators said they would soon reply to it.

The telecom watchdog wanted the voice SMS to carry the name of the prime minister as the sender, which was quite impossible to materialise in two days, officials of the operators told The Daily Star requesting anonymity.

E-mail correspondence between the regulator and the operators to find the best possible way to disseminate the SMS led to loss of valuable time, they said.

They added that finally they got only eight hours to circulate the voice SMS to some 100 million subscribers.

“None of the operators have any platforms capable of delivering anything close to this kind of service to customers in Bangladesh,” Michael Foley, president of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh, told The Daily Star.

“There was, and is, no physical way for us to deliver on this request,” he said.

It was not possible to send the voice SMS to the subscribers in two days and it requires at least seven days in the existing technological setting, said an official of a top mobile operator requesting anonymity.

Foley, also the CEO of Grameenphone, said it was absolutely natural for the head of the government in Canada, his home country, to send out greetings to citizens on national occasions.

The greeting is normally sent out on radio, television and social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, he said.