Saturday, October 29, 2005 - Bangladesh Telecom

Telecom interconnection work to begin next year

The Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) will start the development of interconnection facilities between the different telecom operators from early next year with the financial assistance of the Japan Bank of International Cooperation.

Sources in the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications said that the Economic Relations Division, in a wrap- up meeting on October 3, signed the minutes of discussion with the JBIC mission to develop interconnection facilities in Dhaka, Chittagong and some other cities including Comilla, Kushtia, Mymensingh, Barisal, Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet and Bogra.

The project, whose title has been changed to 'Telecommunications Network Development Project' from the earlier one of 'Development of Interconnection Facilities between Different Telecom Operators in Bangladesh', will be implemented between February 2006 and September 2009 at a cost of Tk 634 crore.

The JBIC will provide around Tk 447 crore while the Bangladesh government will provide the rest of the amount, Tk 187 crore, for the project. A total of 25 consultants, including eight foreign ones, will be appointed for the project at the cost of Tk 39 crore.

According to the minutes of the discussion, a project monitoring unit will be created to implement the project and a general manager of BTTB will be appointed as the project director, and about 69 staffers of BTTB will be absorbed in the project.

The agreed upon minutes of discussion said that the procurement of goods would be conducted in line with the JBIC guideline and Public Procurement Regulations 2003 of Bangladesh.

However, the minutes said that there could be a separate agreement on eligible source countries for procurement if a conflict arises between the JBIC guideline and PPR-03, and in this case approval will be taken from the concerned authorities before signing the procurement agreement.

'The BTTB can sign the agreement under the Company Act if the board turns into a corporate entity by that time,' said the minutes.

However, the JBIC said that telecom ministry must send the legal documents for corporatisation of the telephone board to the Cabinet Division by October, and also wanted a bill in this regard placed in the first session of parliament in 2006 to get the assistance.

The BTTB had submitted the proposal to the JBIC in 2003 through the ERD for funding of the interconnection project.

The Dhaka office of the JBIC conducted a feasibility study to assess the need for interconnection between the operators, said BTTB officials.

The bank, however, imposed certain conditions, including restructuring of the BTTB for financing the project, said officials at the post and telecommunications ministry.

'As the government has already started the restructuring process, the JBIC has now agreed to finance the project,' said a telecom ministry official.

Around 90 per cent of about 70 lakh mobile phone users do not have BTTB interconnectivity. Besides, four private-sector public- switched telecom networks have already started operations and 10-12 others are set to launch their services by the year’s end or early next year, said sources.

BTTB officials said that lack of interconnection is hindering the growth of the telecom sector, and if implemented, the telecommunications network development project will help to solve the problem.

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