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Bangladesh opens international gateway

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has invited bids to operate international telecoms services by the private entities Sunday. It will issue licenses for two interconnection exchanges (ICX) and three licenses of International Gateway (IGW) facilities. The ICX will be linked with the IGW.

The fixed and mobile operators’ outbound calls will first terminate in one of the six ICX. Then the calls will be processed in the IGW followed by getting routed to the overseas destinations via BTTB’s submarine cable station. Similar path will be followed for the inbound overseas calls.

BTRC will host a pre-bid meeting on November 5, 2007 and the offers will be received on or before 12:00 PM of November 22, 2007.

The industry has been demanding competition in this segment but the political governments have never showed respect to this. Even the BNP-led four party alliance government had ordered to end BTTB’s monopoly in a cabinet meeting in 2003.

But the regulator has not taken any move to materialise it. This delay has rather helped the mushrooming of illegal international call termination outfits. Siblings and offspring of the powerful quarters flexed political muscles and operated such illegal outfits right under the authorities’ nose.

The fixed mobile telephone operators along with numerous BTTB officials also joined the bonanza of enormous windfall. These factors are blamed for the deliberately belated liberalisation of international telecoms gateway.

Once the licenses are awarded, the very last barrier to liberalise the country’s telecoms sector will be removed. State-owned Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) has been enjoying the monopoly over international gateway.

But the success of current liberalisation move is facing questions for various reasons.

No foreign company or foreign joint venture will qualify to apply for IGW or ICX license, BTRC chairman categorically told the media in a press conference on August 17, 2007. Even the non-resident Bangladeshis’ business outfits are not eligible either.

“Only the companies fully owned by resident Bangladeshi citizens are qualified for these international telecoms licenses.” He also said fixed or mobile phone operators also cannot contest in this race. But the state-owned Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) gets the ICX as well as the IGW licenses by default being the country’s incumbent international telecoms monopoly.

All these provisions are the result of the International Long Distance Telecommunication Services (ILDTS) Policy-2007 which has been enacted without public consultation. This policy also remains undisclosed and the authorities are reluctant to reveal the reason behind such secrecy.

3 Comments to Bangladesh opens international gateway

  1. Faizul's Gravatar Faizul
    October 9, 2007 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Can somebody explain this jargon to me in simple language? This ICX and IGW mean Greek to people like me who have no technical education. (Only part I understand is BNP-led four party alliance government might have got several thousands and hundreds of croes of Tk by ending BTTB’s monopoly in 2003.) Does this new development mean we can get higher speeds in our internet lines? Will it reduce our phone and internet bills?

    M. Faizul Bari
    Khulna, Bangladesh

  2. Naksha's Gravatar Naksha
    March 5, 2008 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    This has nothing to do with the speed of internet lines. This might not reduce the price of international call as well. As you said lot of people have earned lot of money through illegal VOIP bunsiness. Now you will be able to make an international call through legalised path and more importantly government will get its due share. Since BTTB is already providing EISD at fairly competitive rate, you can expect similar or better rate with more clarity in your voice communication.

    You cann’t expect a legal business to compete with an illegal entity, do you? So it is a matter of better governance, more government revenue and may be a better price for you.

  3. March 28, 2008 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    I AM A YOUNG RESEARCHER IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA. MY COUNTRY HAS RECENTLY GONE THROUGH THE PROCESS OF OPENING UP ITS TELECOMMUNICATION INDUSTRY MONOPOLY ENJOYED BY THE GOVERNMENT OWNED “TELIKOM PNG”.
    THE COMPETITOR ALLOWED INTO THE COUNTRY IS “DIGICEL” AN INTERNALLY REKNOWNED MOBILE TELEPHONY SERVICE PROVIDER.

    SOON AFTER OPENING THE MARKET,MY GOVERNMENT HAS SECRECTLY REFINED THE INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT)POLICY.NOW THE TALK IS THAT GOVERNMENT IS PROTECTING TELIKOM PNG.

    THE ISSUE STARTED WITH INTERCONNECTIVITY, BUT WHAT IS VERY TENSE NOW IS, THAT TELIKOM PNG IS THE ONLY INTERNATIONAL GATEWAY PROVIDER, AND THE REFINED NATIONAL POLICY ENSURES THIS.

    CAN SOMEBODY OUT THERE GIVE ME AN OPTION ON HOW THE INTERNATIONAL GATEWAY ISSUE CAN BE SOLVED, SINCE I AM A PATRIOT AND I FEEL THE GOVERNMENT IS ACTING IN THE BEST INTEREST OF MY COUNTRY.

    THANKYOU

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