GP barred from selling SIM cards

BTRC ban to stay until service quality improves

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission yesterday banned Grameenphone from selling new SIM cards for what it said was the operator's failure to provide quality service.

A letter was sent to GP in this regard, a copy of which The Daily Star has obtained.

According to it, the operator cannot sell any new SIM until it improves its quality of services and reduce its rate of call drops.

It said GP has been increasing its number of subscribers without improving services. It is also not providing compensation to customers for dropped calls, despite BTRC's earlier instructions to do so.

The regulator said it enforced the ban in the face of numerous complaints from policymakers and general customers.

"We have already sent a letter to GP instructing it not to sell SIMs," Subrata Roy Maitra, vice-chairman of the BTRC, told The Daily Star.

Mustafa Jabbar, telecom minister, said the operator will have to improve their services if they want to gain new subscribers.

According to the results of a nationwide drive-test published in March, GP's average call drop rate was at 0.29 percent in Dhaka division, with exception to city corporation areas, in December.

Meanwhile, Robi's call drop rate was at 0.23 percent, Banglalink's at 0.32 percent and Teletalk's at 2.69 percent -- highest among the operators.

According to BTRC's policy, the call drop rate should be less than two percent.

Market leader Grameenphone has 8.49 crore subscribers as of this May – 46.11 percent of all mobile subscribers in the country.

Earlier in a statement, GP said it has been "way ahead" of the benchmark set by the BTRC and the International Telecommunication Union.

It has also been collaborating with the BTRC to improve the service quality, the statement read.

"Against this backdrop, we are currently assessing this recent unexpected letter to determine our next course of action. We believe that constructive dialogue with the regulator is the best way to resolve issues in the best interest of our existing and new customers."