Bangladesh’s second and third largest mobile operators - Robi Axiata and Banglalink - have lent their support to a government proposal to implement a standardised rate for voice calls.
According to the minister of telecoms and ICT, Mustafa Jabbar, standardising call rates would create a fairer competitive environment, as it would incentivise operators to improve the quality of their services to attract and retain subscribers. He added that the government would set the rate ahead of a mobile number portability (MNP) initiative set for launch on 31st July.
Speaking the The Independent newspaper, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said: “unfair competition is going on in the country’s telecoms market, as there is no fair competitive regulation among the mobile operators”.
The regulator has reportedly decided on a rate of BDT0.45 ($0.0053) per minute. At present, the minimum charge per minute for calls between subscribers on the same network is BDT0.25, and BDT0.60 between different networks. The most a caller can be charged per minute is BDT2.
Grameenphone has spoken out against the government’s proposal, with the operator’s chief corporate affairs officer Mahmud Hossain saying that standardising rates will lead to a decline in call volumes. He noted that voice accounts for 75% of Grameenphone’s revenue.
Around 90% of calls made over Grameenphone’s network are on-net – i.e. terminated to customers on the same network. For Banglalink and Robi Axiata, this figure is around 70%. According to the BTRC’s data, Grameenphone had around 68.5 million connections at the end of May 2018, giving it a 45% market share. Robi Axiata has a market share of around 30% with 45 million connections, while Banglalink has a 22% share with 33.3 million connections.