Additional fees to hinder 4G evolution: experts

DHAKA: ICT experts urged the government to adopt a data-centric sustainable policy to boost broadband internet penetration towards materializing the “Vision-2021”.

They said any additional charges especially on the most advanced LTE/4G technology would hinder the growth of data business when the people of the country are thirsting for high-speed internet.

Mostafa Jabbar, one of the pioneers of country’s ICT sector, said internet users are not getting the actual speed of 3G service that’s why the government should consider all the possible ways available its hands to meet the people’s real need. The availability of high speed internet services in rural areas is discouragingly low. Instead of trying to break this trend and support BWA and ISPs with timely operational documents (NOCs, technology permissions etc) BTRC is trying to levy additional payments for the use of 4G/LTE, thus, leaving no chances for the development of data services in Bangladesh.

“To ensure quality data services, the government has to introduce most advanced technology like LTE/4G without imposing any additional charges to make the digital Bangladesh campaign successful that the government had launched in 2009,” he opined.

The telecom regulator should lead from the front to expand new technologies in the country otherwise “people would not get any bliss from it”.

In 2013, Bangladesh has entered into the 3G era through an open auction of 1800 MHz airwave and all the GSM-based cellular phone operators brought the services for its customers, but there is dissatisfaction among the customers over the low-speed of 3G services.

Meanwhile, the government issued permission to the BWA operators for offering LTE service to its customers, as the WiMAX technology that the operators used become obsolete globally. The operators across the globe switched to LTE technology from the WiMAX without paying any additional charges.

But, a recent meeting between cellular phone operators and regulators relating to impose additional charges on the use of LTE technology made the BWA operators worried for their roll out plan.

High-speed internet penetration would be accelerated more if the BWA operators get some special facilities what was given during the initial state of cellular phone operators, thought Akhtaruzzaman Manju, former President of Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB).

“Customers are not getting the real taste of broadband internet what is being offering by the cellular phone operators . . . to ensure the high-speed data access, the government has to put concentration on LTE/4G,” he said.

According to the latest statistics of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), currently a total of 5.41 crore people are using internet. But, a BTRC survey found that most of the internet users are dissatisfied over the speed. LTE

Several officials of BWA operators, preferring not to be named, said any increase of the current charges shall mean the increase of charges for the customers.

“It is obvious that the operators are not ready yet for the additional payments and it would be wise for BTRC to let the market grow first and then initiate such discussions,” they said, adding “BTRC should create a level playing field, rather than favoring one dominating group of operators.”

And still now there is a chance for the new Chairman to take up the position and to rule in the right direction to enable operators to develop all areas of Bangladesh.

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