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Dhaka Tribune

Mobile operators reluctant to join

Update : 20 May 2015, 07:29 PM

Most of the mobile phone operators are not willing to join the recently introduced, the limited version of free-internet use, as the platform is being criticised by both local and global experts.

Operators said, which was introduced by Facebook, was not the service that could serve the customers’ real needs.

Meanwhile, Grameenphone and Banglalink have introduced free browsing facilities in Facebook without Airtel is also planning to offer an affordable package to its customers. 

It has been noted that after introducing free internet, Robi is incurring a revenue loss of Tk20 lakh everyday.

“Banglalink introduced free browsing facilities long before for different valued sites and apps like Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Prothom-alo, etc,” Chief Commercial Officer of Banglalink Shihab Ahmad told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

Shamit Shahbuddin, head of PR & internal communications of Airtel, said: ‘’We are not thinking of introducing free internet services with as we are going to initiate a different internet data package soon, which will be affordable to customers.’’ 

Head of External Communications of Grameenphone Sayed Talat Kamal said: “We are in discussions with Facebook and other relevant authorities and also analysing whether our subscribers could benefit from this service.” 

“We are deeply concerned as has been misleadingly promoted with a promise to provide access to the full internet services. In fact, it only provides access to a limited number of Internet-connected services that are approved by Facebook and local ISPs,” said Abu Saeed Khan, a telecommunication expert and senior policy fellow of Lirneasia.

Being the country’s first operator, Robi launched free-internet access on May 10 to selected websites by, a non-profit group that allows free online browsing through mobile gadgets.

The app is an invention of the social media platform Facebook. The project was launched in Zambia, India, Colombia, Guatemala, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malawi in 2014.

Talking to journalists at a press conference on Tuesday Mahtabuddin Ahmed, chief operating officer of Robi, said: "Many internet subscribers, those were not using it, came back. In the last one week increase of free data was 40% than in an average time period, if all mobile operators in Bangladesh join this free internet access program, within a year total internet penetration will increase 8%." 

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