Very poor services of Teletalk, BTCL telephones

Dear Editor:
In connection with the bleak prospect of the government-owned mobile operator Teletalk this writer wrote an article in this paper on April 28, 2017, entitled “Services of Teletalk, BTCL land phone are deplorable.” No action from the authorities was heard. The state-owned operator’s revenues are fast shrinking as customers complain of very poor service.
Again on 11 Oct 2018 this writer wrote on this subject in the Holiday (vide “Very poor services of Teletalk, BTCL telephone”) but no action followed.
The Teletalk lost about 12.3 lakh active connections, which is 27.72 percent of its subscribers according to a BTRC report. “Teletalk is moving backwards every day,” said State minister for telecom Mrs. Tarana Halim on September 21, 2017.
It is a depressing news for Teletalk cell phone users as State minister for telecom Mrs. Tarana Halim on September 21, 2017 said, “Teletalk will die if the government does not provide the funds immediately. We are getting a step-motherly treatment from the finance ministry in this regard,” Tarana said. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also approved the project in a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council but the finance ministry is yet to disburse the fund, she said.
In fiscal 2016-17, Teletalk’s revenue shrunk about 28 percent year-on-year to Tk 710 crore—the lowest in three years. The state-owned mobile phone operator Teletalk “will not survive if the government does not allocate adequate funds for the operator”. In a press conference at her secretariat office, she said she was trying to get a funding of Tk 610 crore for a Teletalk project to establish 1,200 stations capable of providing 3G and 4G services along with 500 2G towers.
Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited (BTCL) suffered revenue loss of at least Tk2, 000 crore in last six years due to corruption, revealed a TIB study April 31, 2014. Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) identified tampering with the BTCL’s international call records as one of its major corrupted areas.
In October last year Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) awarded the licences for tower operation to four companies (Edotco Bangladesh, Summit Tower Limited, Kirtonkhola Tower Bangladesh and AB Hightech Consortium), as reported in the Daily Star on June 11, 2019; but the 4 companies which were supposed to take over the towers from the mobile operators and also build new ones. As a result they have been unable to do it after seven months since getting their licences, leaving the mobile operators in a state of uncertainty. But, three of the four tower licence holders have failed to start their operations within the deadline of May 1, meaning in effect no new towers were set up in the country in the past seven months amidst a fast-growing demand.The mobile companies have demanded 3,000 new sites from the telecom regulator to ease the strain on their network.
A main disagreement is the duration for which the towers are guaranteed to be functional.At present, the mobile operators keep the towers running for at least 99.50 percent of the time, whereas the licence holders are promising 98 percent of the time. This is not acceptable by the mobile operators as it would invariably lead to a noticeable drop in their service quality.Besides, the tower companies are not promising prompt action in getting the towers up and running again in case of disruptions.
A M K Chowdhury

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