The Financial Express

Who cares what telcommunication companies serve?

| Updated: October 12, 2021 10:40:33

Who cares what telcommunication companies serve?

The country's mobile network operators (MNOs) are growing steadily but precariously as they are still ill-equipped with inadequate resources against a larger subscriber base, not caring about compliance issues.

In an internal study, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (BTRC) has recently found multiple issues behind this poor quality of service (QoS).

The telecoms carriers have inadequate spectrums and non-utilisation of new spectrums and much less use of fibre than required for 4G network, it detects.

The BTRC also finds that three leaders-Grameenphone, Robi and Bangla-link-provide very poor QoS to not only users in remote areas, but also to those in Dhaka city.

It has decided to investigate in the face of an avalanche of complaints against poor QoS by the MNOs.

The BTRC report was submitted at the 255th meeting of the regulator with a number of suggestions and recommendations to improve the quality of service.

It also stated that the prime minister's office and army headquarters complained to the BTRC about poor QoS even in the metropolis.

Against this backdrop, post and telecoms minister Mustafa Jabbar said the regulator earlier did not have the capacity to detect the anomalies the MNOs have been doing for long.

"The BTRC is now sufficiently strengthened to find out whether MNOs are providing expected, required and complied services to their users," he said.

Mr Jabbar said the regulator would take stern action against the MNOs for poor services.

According to the report, GP has only 12-per cent 4G eNodeB with fibre connectivity, Robi 18 per cent and Banglalink 13 per cent for 4G service.

The trio use microwave links mostly on their sites to connect users instead of eNOdeB for fibre connectivity.

Only the state-owned Teletalk has 67-per cent 4G eNodeB connectivity, reads the report.

Although subscribers' growth was 60 per cent between June 2020 and June 2021, BTRC stats show, the rate of eNodeB growth was only 37 per cent during the period.

Association of Mobile Telecom Op-erators of Bangl-adesh (AMTOB) secretary general SM Farhad says the MNOs always focus on best services to customers.

"Fibre connectivity is important to ensure that. But for many reasons, MNOs could not get the desired connectivity," he adds.

"Now that discussion is ongoing among MNOs, BTRC and NTTNs, we hope to see a positive result soon."

The report finds that the MNOs did not utilise even half of the spectrum against their claim of inadequacy as the key reason for poor QoS.

About non-utilisation of spectrum, Mr Farhad said the use of the spectrum, bought last March, in the network is going on.

"It requires some time to allocate it to the whole network. Within a few months, the

entire newly-bought spectrum will be used in the entire networks."

Mobile data users are currently 115.41 million while broadband subscribers are 10 million until this August, according to the BTRC.

But the MNOs serve 92-per cent users with only 45 per cent of the total bandwidth of the country, which is extremely poor for quality service delivery, it says.

4G subscribers in most cases get less than 5.0Mbps speed for want of dynamic spectrum sharing, cell splitting and higher order MIMO technologies in place.

The BTRC sets the minimum 4G internet speed to 7 megabyte per second (Mbps) in 2018 which is less than that of the global standard of 4G speed.

Tower-sharing companies have also made very little contribution to improving telecoms network infrastructure in the past three years, it observed.

Only 17-per cent towers of MNOs share their facilities with other carriers, according to the report.

There is a distinct lack of collaboration among MNOs and tower-sharing companies, it remarks.

In a comparative test drive from January to August this year, the BTRC found that the MNOs did not improve much of their services during the period.

After the January drive, it asked the operators to improve services, but nothing much happened.

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