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The Financial Express

Lockdown hitting telcos hard

Voice call, retail recharge drop notably


Ismail Hossain | Published: April 03, 2020 09:28:25 | Updated: April 05, 2020 09:32:02


FE file photo used for representation FE file photo used for representation

The countrywide lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic is taking its toll on local telecom sector, as most of the mobile phone top-up stores are closed during the critical situation.

According to the data of Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB), number of voice calls has drastically dropped by up to 20 per cent during the last couple of days of lockdown.

Total number of recharge through retail channels has also declined by around 20 per cent due to movement restriction during countrywide lockdown.

However, mobile data usage has increased by 15-20 per cent during the period, as per AMTOB.

AMTOB Secretary General Brig Gen (Retd) S M Farhad said local telecom sector is facing challenges like all other sectors of the economy due to the coronavirus outbreak.

He noted that mobile operators are observing the (changed) trend in usage patterns that may leave some dent on their overall revenue.

"Considering the users in the current scenario, the operators have reduced their data pack tariffs by up to 50 per cent, in some cases, which has resulted in around 15-20 per cent data usage growth."

Data usage growth is rising rapidly, but data monetisation (process of earning revenue) is still low for the operators.

Mr Farhad further said the worrying fact is that over the last couple of days, number of voice calls has dropped by up to 20 per cent.

The AMTOB secretary general alleged that although telecom has been declared as an emergency service during the crisis period, the law-enforcement agencies are imposing restrictions in some places, due to ignorance of the government's directives (given in this regard).

It is somewhat hampering telecom sector's retail operations, especially top-up or recharge services.

He urged the law-enforcers to extend their cooperation for ensuring smooth functioning of mobile top-up stores and other recharge outlets.

"We encourage our customers to recharge their accounts using other means, such as - mobile financial services, electronic money transfer, and mobile applications etc," he added.

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