The government has directed mobile phone carriers to block their signals up to a kilometre from the borders.
“This is not our ministry’s decision. It came from other ministries, and we just forwarded it,” Post and Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar told The Daily Star yesterday evening.
He, however, said the decision was made following a consensus of three to four ministries, and the foreign ministry was leading the efforts.
“Security of the state is the government’s first priority, and that’s why the government made this decision,” Jabbar said without elaborating.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission wrote to the four carriers -- Grameenphone, Robi, Banglalink, and Teletalk-- at 7:45pm yesterday, and the operators started complying soon after getting the directive, said BTRC officials.
The letters were signed by deputy director Md Sohel Rana of the BTRC’s spectrum management division.
The decision would affect about one crore subscribers in 32 districts that have borders with India and Myanmar.
A senior executive of a carrier said about 2,000 mobile towers would be turned off, and it would take a couple of days to do that since some of them were in remote areas.
“The border is not a straight line, and if we block the last tower closest to the border, signals would be affected in at least a few kilometres inside the country,” said the executive requesting anonymity.
The official said they had never done such wholesale signal blocking and that they only blocked signals in certain areas temporarily.
Officials of the carriers said since there would be no signals of Bangladeshi operators, carriers of neighbouring countries could take the chance and cover the areas.
However, Jabbar said, “As far as we know, a neighbouring country has already blocked signals in its border areas.”