Bangladesh's mobile phone operators are facing various allegations, including frequent call drops, network unavailability and slow internet speed, which deprive some 145.111 million phone users of quality services.
According to information provided by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), phone users lodged some 3,522 complaints against the mobile phone operators from December 7 to 31, 2017.
Of them, Grameenphone faced 1,973 allegations while Robi 604, Airtel 221, Banglalink 612, Teletalk 104 and Citycell eight.
While talking to UNB, Posts, Telecommunications and IT Minister Mustafa Jabbar termed the call-drop rate alongside the slow internet speed "alarming."
To overcome the situation, he asked the BTRC to conduct stricter monitoring against the telecom companies throughout the month of February, saying they will take action, including cancellation of licences if needed, based on the surveillance.
"The harassment of customers won't be tolerated. There'll be no compromise with the mobile phone operators. Fixing those challenges will be our first priority," the minister said.
He also noted that Bangladesh cannot be digitised if quality mobile service and fast internet speed at a reasonable price are not ensured.
Md Ariful Haque, a Grameenphone user, said his calls end abruptly and this has been happening on a more frequent basis nowadays, not to mention 3G internet speed often shifting to 2G.
Robi user Md Jahangir Alam and Banglalink subscriber Sharna echoed Ariful.
BTRC Director General (Engineering and Operation) Colonel Md Mustafa Kamal said they conducted a survey in Mymensingh and Sylhet divisions using the state-of-the-art machines to assess the operators' service quality.
He said they put forward the survey findings to the operators and instructed them to take necessary actions. "Such surveys will gradually be conducted in all the divisions and appropriate steps will be taken."
A policy framework titled "Quality of Service Regulations 2018" is being prepared draft of which has been put on BTRC's website for feedback and it is set to be approved by the commission soon.
BTRC Secretary Md Sarwar Alam said the mobile phone operators cannot deliver quality services for not having adequate spectrum. "Hopefully, they'll purchase necessary spectrum through the next auction which will eliminate the complaints in future."
All the mobile operators have applied for participating in the upcoming 2100/1800/900 MHz spectrum auction, which will be held on Tuesday.
Subject to paying both the licence and spectrum fees, the BTRC will hand over the spectrum to the operators the next day.
According to the guidelines, the rate for 1800 MHz will be $30 million per MHz, $27 million per MHz for 2100 MHz and $30 million per MHz for 900 MHz spectrum.
Secretary General and CEO of Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) TIM Nurul Kabir told UNB that the operators are bound to deliver quality services to their users, and all of them are working to improve their services. "I hope the service will improve after acquiring necessary spectra in the upcoming auction."
According to the latest BTRC calculation, the number of mobile phone users in the country stands at 145.111 million as of January 29, 2018.
Of them, 65.3 million use Grameenphone while 42.9 million Robi, 32.3 million Banglalink, 4.49 million people use state-owned Teletalk, a rise from previous 3.24 million.
The number of internet users in the country as of December 2017 is 80.483 million, including 75 million using internet on their mobile phones, 0.089 million using WiMAX and 5.344 million using broadband and other PSTN internet services.