Call drops becoming more frequent
Frequent call drops and disruptions became a major problem for more than 16 crore mobile subscribers in the first eight months of this year. There were 112.95 crore call drops between January and August, according to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), translating to an average of about 47 lakh call drops per day. During the Covid-19 period, this has become an even bigger problem as a large number of people have been working from home and needing better quality service. People in rural areas have been hit the worst, as poor connectivity and call drops have been more frequent there.
Despite the number of mobile and internet subscribers increasing by 1 crore and nearly 2 crores in the last two years, no new cell phone towers have been set up in the country during that time, leading to a gradual decline in the quality of services. In 2018, the government had approved four applications for tower operation licences, but due to a lack of agreement between tower-sharing operator licensees and telecom operators, as well as regulatory issues, there have not been any new towers built yet. In the meanwhile, it is the consumers who are suffering.
This is unacceptable. It is imperative that people should get reliable and quality cell phone service, especially during times of emergency such as the Covid-19 outbreak. It is time for the regulators to toughen their regulatory measures and to ensure customers' rights are protected. This should include customers getting compensation for dropped calls. However, as this paper has previously reported, mobile operators have been reluctant in the past and had cut back on providing compensation for dropped calls between August 2018 and July 2019. The regulators must monitor this, get the operators to provide fair compensation to their subscribers and also ensure that better quality service is provided.