Request to Bangladesh Government to open up VoIP for all the operators

April 5th, 2009

[the dailystar reports] The country’s telecom industry should be run by such a set of uniform regulations that ensure a level playing field for both the local and foreign investors, speakers at a discussion said yesterday.

The speakers also urged the government to reduce bandwidth prices soon for the sake of the sector’s development.

“Discriminatory regulations should be removed,” said Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, president of Bangladesh Economic Association.

It is very natural that any investment is meant for getting a return within a certain period, he said, adding: “The regulations should be in way that a healthy competition remains among the operators.”

The roundtable on Telecommunication in National Development: Problems and Prospects, organised by Bangla daily Samakal, also highlighted the taxation policies in the telecom industry.

Mehbub Chowdhury, president of South Asia Mobile Forum, high officials from telecom operators, vendors and internet service providers also spoke.

SM Khabiruzzaman, managing director of Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd, questioned why the last government did not open up the voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology.

He said the government had a plan to open up VoIP for all the operators. But bypassing that the last government restricted the technology.

No one in the world can avoid VoIP technology, said Mehbub Chowdhury, adding that all the telecom operators need to use VoIP technology.

“The government should not restrict the technology,” said Ashraful Haque Chowdhury, general manager of Warid Telecom. He demanded that the government formulate a policy consulting the operators about how VoIP should run.

Parvez Ahmed, a consultant for Banglalion, a WiMax licensee, said there is no alternative to reducing bandwidth prices if the government wants to reach internet or telecom services to the mass.

Citing an example, he said in Europe for the end users 1Mbps bandwidth costs only Tk 1,000, whereas in Bangladesh operators have to pay Tk 22,000 for 1Mbps.

“Like the government, we also want to provide internet services at minimum costs. But if I pay Tk 22,000 for 1Mbps, it is not possible,” Parvez said.

Responding to the operators’ demand for withdrawal of Tk 800 tax on a SIM (subscriber identity module) card, Abdul Mannan Patwari, a member of National Board of Revenue, said they would discuss the matter before the upcoming budget.

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