The government plans to create a cartel of international gateway (IGW) operators, in an attempt to allow a handful of companies to form a 2-tier clearing exchange for gaining control over the pricing of international incoming call termination, The Dhaka Tribune reports. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has already formed a panel to that effect, comprising 7 of the 23 active IGW operators.
The IGW Operators Forum (IOF), which currently includes 18 operators, has also been working to implement the 2-tier system that would eliminate the existing structure that ensured equality for all IGW operators.
Leveraging a IOF proposal, the BRTC has categorised all the IGWs – except the selected seven – as tier 1 operators and decided that, from now on, all international incoming calls must be routed through the tier 2 operators as they alone would stay connected with the Interconnection Exchange (ICX) and mobile and land phone operators. Additionally, the BTRC has eliminated state-owned operator BTCL from the tier 2 list, which is also known as the IGW Operator’s Switch (IOS). It has also been proposed that after deducting the revenue share for the BTRC, ICX and mobile or land phone operators, the IGW operators will deposit the rest of the amount to a single account before distributing it on a 1:1.9 ratio. The IOS will also take 7.5 percent from the overhead amount as market development charges.
According to BTRC sources, BRTC chairman Sunil Kanti Bose has issued a directive regarding the IOS, saying that the IGW Operators Forum should inform about the formation of its executive committee and all its decisions to the commission. Global Voice Limited Chairman AKM Shamsudoha has confirmed he has received the letter from the regulator.
“Nobody in the telecom sector – the BTRC or the government – will be available in October [because of vacations and IT-related events], so it will take time to form the IOS and we also need to import some equipment,” Shamsudoha said.
Sources said the parties that would be affected by the decision plan to take legal action to protect their equal rights. “We are against this new formation; it means some IGWs are powerful and the rest will die within a short time,” said Zahir Ahmed, managing director and CEO of IGW operator Bangla Tel. “There is no need to create another platform for IGW operators; only the BTRC can control the market if they are given the power.”, Ahmed added.