Tuesday, May 30, 2006 - Bangladesh Telecom

Submarine cable will save Bangladesh over $13 mn

Bangladesh's Internet service providers (ISPs) will be able to save about Taka 800 million ($13 million) per annum through a submarine cable that connects the country with the super information highway.

The bandwidth of the submarine cable would save foreign exchange and add revenue to the government exchequer, sources in the Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB) told BDNews news agency.

Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) has already received Taka 65 million ($1 million) from 11 ISPs by selling submarine cable bandwidth.

Internet users in Dhaka have started enjoying the benefit of the submarine cable with 2 megabytes per second (mbps). The service providers earlier had to pay about $3,000 for 1 mbps per month while the charge is now about $1,000.

According to the ISPAB, about a half a million Internet customers in the country use 400 to 500 mbps. The number of users as well as bandwidth use is expected to rise radically with the arrival of the submarine cable, Bangladesh Observer newspaper said.

Akhtaruzzaman Manju, president of ISPAB, however, said the ISPs could offer upgraded service quality of Internet for users, not a reduction in cost.

'And it is the customers' choice what they want - quality service or cost reduction, and we intend to offer the first one to our valued customers,' he added.

Friday, May 26, 2006 - Bangladesh Telecom

BTRC proposes new call termination rate for BTTB - mobile revenue sharing

The Bangladesh Telecommuni-cations Regulatory Commission has proposed a new termination rate for a revised revenue sharing agreement between the state-owned Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board and private mobile phone operators.

The commission proposed the new rate in May after a series of meetings in April with the telephone board and the mobile phone operators, BTRC officials said. If both sides agree, the new rate will be implemented in phases.

According to the proposal, the mobile phone operators will pay the telephone board at a rate of Tk 0.70 per minute whenever a call is made from their networks to the BTTB network.
The telephone board will pay at a rate of Tk 0.30 per minute between May and July, Tk 0.40 between August and December, Tk 0.50 in 2007, Tk 0.60 in 2008, and Tk 0.70 in 2009 for calls from the BTTB network terminating in the networks of the mobile phone operators.

"The revenue sharing between the BTTB and the operators will be on an equal footing in 2009," a top official of the commission said on Wednesday.

The commission has also proposed that the telephone board should pay mobile phone operators at a rate of Tk 2 per minute for international calls from and Tk 1 for international calls to the mobile networks.

In March, the telephone board sent separate proposals to the four operators to sign a revised revenue sharing agreement. The operators rejected the proposals as discriminatory and sought the regulatory commission’s intervention.
The regulatory commission took the issue for an amicable solution and proposed this new rate, said a senior official of the commission.

The board had proposed that it would pay Tk 0.30 per minute to the mobile operators when it terminates its calls on their network but would charge Tk 0.70 for terminating calls from the mobile network on its network.

On April 19, it implemented a Tk 1.5 per minute call charge for calls to any mobile phones without signing a revised revenue sharing agreement with the mobile operators, although it said paying interconnection charges to the mobile operators was the reason for switching to a per-minute rate instead of the 5-minute peak and 8-to-10-minute off-peak chunks for Tk 1.5.

However, due to the absence of a new revenue sharing agreement, the board’s subscribers have been paying 400 hundred per cent more, compared to earlier charges, when calling mobile phones and the mobile operators have also been taking incoming charges from their customers when they receive calls from the BTTB network.

Under the existing agreement, signed in 1998, the mobile operators pay interconnection fees when accessing the BTTB network whereas the telephone board pays nothing when terminating its traffic to the mobile operators’ network.
The board, however, has a revenue sharing agreement with the state-run mobile phone operator Teletalk Bangladesh.

The mobile operators have repeatedly said they will not charge for incoming calls from BTTB phones once the new revenue sharing agreement comes into effect.

The mobile operators say they have signed interconnection agreements among them and with private land phone operators.
The agreements are symmetrical where they charge Tk 0.90 per minute for peak hours and Tk 0.50 for off peak hours.

Thursday, May 25, 2006 - Bangladesh Telecom

Cost of internet use set to go down

BTTB announces tariff rate for submarine cable, satellite, internet services; ISPs hail the move.

Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) yesterday offered an interesting tariff rate for the newly launched submarine cable, satellite and internet services, which will help the internet service providers (ISPs) to slash internet use costs significantly.

The latest BTTB tariff rate is one fourth of that the ISPs now pay to foreign internet exchange providers. But despite such a cost relief, the ISPs will not be able to reduce more than 10 percent of the charges for internet users. This is because the ISPs will continue to maintain the services of foreign internet exchange providers for the next few months, according to the ISPs.

"The customers will enjoy the full benefit of the submarine cable within 3-4 months. The cost of internet use will then go down at least by 50 percent," said Ershad Shafi Chowdhury, secretary general of the Bangladesh ISP Association.

"The BTTB does not have a backup system to complement the submarine cable. That is why the ISPs will have to continue to depend on foreign internet services," he said. "But the BTTB has taken up an initiative to install a backup Vsat (Very small aperture satellite) and, hopefully, this will start operating within 3-4 months."

The country has about 5 lakh internet users at present. With the arrival of the submarine cable, this number is expected to shoot up dramatically. "We really can not predict how fast the consumer base will grow. But this is going to grow in significant pace," observed Ershad.

Meanwhile, many ISPs in Dhaka have already started using the submarine cable even though an appropriate cable infrastructure is yet in place. They are providing speed up to 2 megabyte per second (MBps).

The ISPs are expecting the BTTB to reduce its tariff structure further, said Ershad. "The BTTB has just launched the operation of submarine cable and it is still not sure about the market response. We believe the market response will be great, which will encourage the BTTB to lower the tariff rate further."

The BTTB tariff rate for internet connection below 2 MBps through the SMW4 submarine cable is as follows: registration fee- Tk 20,000, installation and testing fee- Tk 75,000, modem charge for 128 Kbps- Tk 84,000 (lifetime & optional) and yearly rental charge Tk 21,000 (if modem provided by the BTTB). For 192 KBps to 1 MBps the lifetime charge is Tk 126,000 and annual rental fee Tk 31,500, and above 1 MBps lifetime charge is Tk 231,000 with annual rental fee of Tk 57,750.

Call centres and software exporters can rent half circuit 64 Kbps facility for Tk 151,200 and full circuit for Tk 272,160 for a year. General users may avail the same for Tk 201,600 and Tk 362,880 respectively.

The tariff rate for ISPs through satellite for 64 Kbps half circuit is: registration fee- Tk 20,000, installation and testing- Tk 120,000, for 64 Kbps & 128 Kbps the lifetime modem charge (optional) Tk 84,000 and Tk 21,000 rental (if modem provided by BTTB). For 192 Kbps to 1 Mbps, the lifetime modem charge is Tk 126,000 plus an annual rental of Tk 31,500. For speed above 1 Mbps, the lifetime modem charge is Tk 231,000 plus an annual rental of Tk 57,750.

The BTTB circular said that the customers are barred from sharing or further leasing out of bandwidth. The Internet Private Leaseline Circuit (IPLC) is disallowed to terminate calls. Besides it added some terms and conditions on the use of voice-based application.

"If any illegal transmission of voice is detected in IPLC, a penalty of Tk 350,000 will be added to 64 Kbps half circuit annual charge... if the customer is a licensed operator, in addition to this penalty, respective clauses of Telecom Laws will also be applicable," the circular stated.

The 10-page circular also laid out cost structure for leased line, long-term connection, and different types of clients.

Sunday, May 21, 2006 - Bangladesh Telecom

Teletalk expects 4 lac new SIM cards by November

Bangladeshi state-owned mobile phone company Teletalk said it would release 400,000 new SIM cards by November 2006. The company has already sold 264,000 cards so far. Teletalk sources said the operator would release a package named 'Rural Package' by June to make mobile phones available and affordable to use by rural people of Khulna, Rajshahi and Chittagong. The programme allows rural customers to pay 900 taka for a SIM card and 300 taka for a card in addition to the SIM. Teletalk's Rural Package is aimed at low-income people across the country, excepting those in the country's capital, Dhaka.

Submarine cable opens today - Bangladesh to join global information superhighway

Bangladesh embarks onto the global information superhighway today (21st May) as Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is scheduled to inaugurate the submarine cable at its landing station at Cox's Bazar coast.

The commissioning of the new systems sets a landmark in the country's telecommunications and information communication technology sector as it will tremendously enhance the performance and capacity in this field, said officials of the Telecommunications Ministry.

They viewed that the capacity of telecommunications and data transfer would be greatly enhanced from the present level, giving a high-speed, low-priced Internet and telecommunications gateway to the users to catch up with the fast-moving world.

Bangladesh earlier signed an agreement with 12 other countries under a consortium in 2004 to implement a mega-project at a cost of Tk 628 crore for installing the submarine cable down the seabed.

The consortium called South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe-4 was formed to implement the project for connecting the country with undersea optical fibre passing from Singapore through Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and a number of Middle-Eastern countries to finally land in France.

Now the county will have a 10-gigabyte data-transfer capacity a second, 68 times higher than the current speed, the official said about the benefits the nation is going to reap-though a bit late.

Earlier, Bangladesh had missed the bus to get onto the information superhighway by not joining the group when the submarine cable passed through the Bay of Bengal.

The capacity is considered adequate for the next 10 years and the submarine cable has a life of 15 years.

The state-owned Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) and over 100 Internet service providers (ISP) now have a 150-megabyte data-transfer capacity per second, the officials claimed.

Also, the submarine cable link is going to provide the infrastructure for large-scale software export and scope for investment in the knowledge economy.

Submarine link opens today but not for users

On the eve of the inauguration of submarine cable system that will connect Bangladesh to the information superhighway, the ISP Association of Bangladesh yesterday expressed its concerns that due to lack of local infrastructures, the country's 25 lakh(2.5 Million) internet users will face major disappointments.

The country has not prepared any network to support the use of this high bandwidth which will be available with the submarine cable. The country has not even decided when this network will be set up or completed.

Akhtaruzzaman Manju, president of the association, said the country may be deprived of the benefits of having this cable system because till date the government has not fixed a "bandwidth policy", or fixed a price for availing the bandwidth to the Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

The BTTB has not set up collocation facility in all of its exchanges. The country has not also determined any backup for the submarine cable system.

Friday, May 19, 2006 - Bangladesh Telecom

BTTB to cut internet charges thanks to submarine cable link

State-owned Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) plans to slash internet usage charges by 62 percent after the country is improves its international connections with a new undersea cable, officials said. Charges for all types of internet connections will be reduced. Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is going to formally inagurate the SEA-ME-WE-4 undersea cable on 21st May.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - Bangladesh Telecom

BTTB to implement new rate without agreement with mobile operators

Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board is going to implement the Tk 1.5 per minute call charge from April 19 for calls to any mobile phones without signing a revised revenue sharing agreement with the mobile operators.

The telephone board when submitting its proposal to the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission on January 30 cited that the board would shortly sign a new minute-based revenue sharing agreement with the mobile operators, under which, the board has to pay interconnection charge to operators for sending calls in their networks.

The board has to subsidise its outgoing calls to mobile phones, if the new rate does not come into effect, said the proposal.
That was the major reason for increasing the call charges to mobile phones according to the board.

The regulatory commission on Thursday night approved the proposal to charge per minute instead of the present 5-minute peak and 8-to-10-minute off-peak chunks for Tk 1.5.

Sources in the telephone board said as there is no new revenue sharing agreement between telephone board and the private mobile operators till date, the board’s decision to implement the new rate from Wednesday would be tantamount to cheating its 11 lakh subscribers who would have to pay 400 per cent more than the current charge.

'The telephone board is simply cheating its customers by charging for a service which has not yet to come into effect,' said a top official of the state owned telephone board.

Earlier in March, the telephone board sent separate proposals to four private mobile phone operators to sign the revised revenue sharing agreement but they refused to do so due to discrimination in the termination charge.

In the proposal, the board said it would pay Tk 0.30 per minute to the mobile operators while terminating its calls in their network.
On the other hand the telephone board would charge Tk 0.70 for terminating mobile operator’s calls in its network.

But the operators rejected the board’s proposal terming it discriminatory and later requested the regulatory commission’s intervention.

'The termination charge is discriminatory and unacceptable,' said a top official of a leading operator.

He said all the operators signed interconnection agreements among them and with private land phone operators. These agreements, he said were symmetrical and the private operators charge Tk 0.90 per minute for peak hours and Tk 0.50 for off peak hours as interconnection charge.

On the other hand, the telephone board refused the operators’ demand to share 15 per cent of its revenue generated from international calls. Under the existing agreement signed in 1998, private mobile operators pay interconnection fees while accessing the BTTB network whereas the telephone board pays nothing while terminating its traffic to the mobile operator’s network. The state-owned land phone operator however, has a revenue sharing agreement with the state-run mobile phone operator Teletalk Bangladesh.

Thursday, March 30, 2006 - Bangladesh Telecom

Tk 7.5 per min calls to 15 more countries

The Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board will introduce its flat international call rate of Tk 7.5 per minute to 15 more countries from April 1.

Earlier on December 2003, the board first introduced the flat rate of Tk 7.5 per minute for making calls to ten countries that consisted of the United States, Canada, England, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The state-owned land phone operator in a statement on Wednesday said the subscribers having international subscriber’s dialling and nation-wide dialling facilities would enjoy the reduced tariff using code number '012' for making calls to China, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Brunei, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg, Ireland, Spain, Greece and Austria.

Excepting China, South Korea, Thailand and Brunei, the board, however, would charge Tk 18 per minute for making calls to mobile phones of the remaining 11 countries

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - Bangladesh Telecom

GP launches new bill payment system

The GrameenPhone Ltd (GP) introduces an electronic bill payment system through FlexiLoad, for its post-Paid subscribers from today.

From now GrameenPhone’s post- paid subscribers will be able to pay their bills with any amount starting from Tk 150 to Tk 50, 000 at any time of the day.

To pay GP post-paid bill through this system, a subscriber only needs to visit the nearest GrameenPhone authorized FlexiLoad retail outlets or points of sale with the FlexiLoad post-paid sign. After successful completion of the payment, both the subscriber and the retailer will receive a confirmation SMS.

Post-paid subscribers of GrameenPhone namely GP Regular, GP National, Anytime 500 and Business Solutions subscribers will enjoy this FlexiLoad service.

Introduction of this system will make the bill payment easy and hassle-free. The subscribers will not face any queue or time barrier while paying bill.

Saturday, March 25, 2006 - Bangladesh Telecom

GrameenPhone opens subscriber info office

The largest mobile operator in Bangladesh, GrameenPhone, recently launched a digital data entry of its subscribers under the new registration programme.

Data entry from the registration forms filled in by subscribers has started in the new office at Basundhara City on Panthapath equipped with 600 computers from mid- March.

All the bits of information on a subscriber, according to the registration form, are stored in the main server.

GrameenPhone information department general manager Syed Yamin Bakht said the decision on the beginning of re-registration would be made soon as the process needed to be completed by May as directed by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.

New subscribers will need to fill in the registration forms, designed by the regulatory commission, available with 600 GrameenPhone service desks spanning 61 districts.

Eight major customer centres in six cities control the service desks and collect all forms of the subscribers. The forms are sent to the office at Basundhara City for data entry. The hard copies are stored in the operator’s warehouse at Tejgaon.

Sources said the operator, which has about five million subscribers, has 1,400 people with it across Bangladesh.

GrameenPhone, which had a subscriber base of 2.4 million in December 2004, doubled the number to five million covering 60 per cent of the market, said Syed Yamin Bakht.

Thursday, March 23, 2006 - Bangladesh Telecom

11 digits in GP numbers from April 2nd week

All GrameenPhone (GP) mobile phone numbers will change to 11-digit series from the second week of April, sources in GrameenPhone said. The GP SMS service centre number will also be change to an 11- digit number. A separate digit will be added after the GrameenPhone prefix 017 while the other digits will remain unchanged. The additional digit after the prefix 017 for all existing GrameenPhone subscribers will be ‘1’. The GP SMS service centre number will be change from +880170000600 to +8801700000600.