The cabinet has decided to seize the regulatory functions from BTRC and give it back to the telecoms ministry in Bangladesh. Therefore, the politicians and civil servants will again assign licenses and spectrum. Even worse – they will approve the tariff and services. Welcome to the Stone Age.
BTRC was born with a reasonable degree of independence on January 31, 2002. The country’s teledensity, fixed and mobile combined, was the lowest (0.83) in South Asia. It rose to 33 at the end of 2009. BTRC may not be fully credited for such exponential growth. But the ministry remains fully liable for conniving with state-owned monopoly BTTB (Now BTCL) and refusing interconnection to the mobile industry. As a result, Bangladesh had to bear the “mobile-to-mobile only” stigma until 2008.
However, the government needs to amend the telecoms law to behead BTRC. These amendments will require parliamentary approval. But the ruling party lawmakers should not forget the then Awami League government had enacted the telecoms law at its twilight in 2001 and created BTRC. It regained power with overwhelming majority in 2009. And now the very party – that also indoctrinates “Digital Bangladesh” – is writing the death sentence of its own creation behind closed-doors. What a paradox!