Thursday, July 14, 2005 - Bangladesh Telecom

BTRC plans intervention in interconnection row

The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will intervene to solve the interconnectivity dispute between the private sector mobile phone operators and the state-owned Bangladesh Teletalk Limited.

BTRC officials said as the private mobile phone operators and Teletalk are at loggerheads over the interconnection issue, the commission has decided to exercise its regulatory power to ensure interconnectivity for the greater interest of the subscribers.

Interconnection means the connection of two networks, thereby allowing customers of one network to connect with customers of another, or to access services provided by the other network.

According to the BTRC officials, the Interconnection Regulations 2004 of the commission stipulate that the interconnection agreement should be executed within three months from the first day on which the new operator starts providing telecommunication service.

Moreover, the Bangladesh Telecommunications Act 2001 says if interested parties, who are bound to execute interconnection agreement, cannot agree on the terms of such an agreement, any of them may approach the commission for judgement.

Moreover, the commission may take up the matter on its own, and determine the terms of the agreements as it considers appropriate.

As the private operators reportedly did not come up with a concrete response to Teletalk’s invitation to sign an interconnection agreement, the latter on April 30 formally urged the BTRC to intervene and settle the issue.

In this context, the commission can intervene in any matter relating to inter- connection of any operator for the purpose of ensuring that the public’s interest is served, said a top official of the commission.

The official also said the commission would call a meeting of all the mobile operators, including the Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board, next week to settle the dispute.

The commission, however, has held two meetings with the Association of Telecom Operators of Bangladesh, the association of the private sector mobile phone operators, but could not come to a settlement.

Sources in the association said they want to see the terms and condition of interconnection agreement between the telephone board and Teletalk before signing a deal with the latter, which started commercial operation on March 31. Currently Teletalk has 67,000 subscribers.

The four private sector operators also demanded that Teletalk deposit a fixed amount as guarantee money for inter-connectivity in case its operation comes to an abrupt end, as there are several cases against Teletalk with regard to its licensing procedure.

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