Final decision after multi-stakeholders’ meeting on Sunday, says ISPAB President MA Hakim
The Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB) and Cable Operators Association of Bangladesh (COAB) have decided to postpone the 3-hour internet shutdown earlier scheduled to have begun from Sunday.
However, they will wait for the decision to come from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after a meeting with the prime minister, as Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar had stated, said ISPAB President MA Hakim.
“You can assume that you have won in the first place. Everyone in the government is aware of the issue. Give us a few more days so that we can resolve this issue in a respectable way,” said Mustafa Jabbar.
The decision was taken following a zoom meeting between the two associations, Post, Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Mustafa Jabbar and Minister of State for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak on Saturday evening.
Earlier, ISPAB and COAB came up with the decision to go for an internet shutdown in protest against the removal of overhead wires by the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) in the capital.
During the zoom meeting, Mustafa Jabbar requested both the internet service providers (ISPs) and cable TV operators to withdraw their strike and wait for the decision of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
He said: “We have a meeting with the prime minister tomorrow [on Sunday] where we will present this issue before her. We are serious about this issue as we are struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“Everything, including banks and offices, now depend on the internet and we can’t stay a moment without the internet. In this critical time, cutting off internet cables is not a right decision. I think no one gave the mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) a clear picture of the situation,” the minister added.
During the coronavirus period, ISPs provided uninterrupted internet services. COAB has delivered dish connections from house to house. So there should not be any adverse treatment of them. A planned decision is needed to clean up the city. Removing cables without creating alternative ways is not the solution and no cable should be removed until the matter is resolved after discussions, he added.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Post and Telecommunication Division, Afzal Hossain, and the Minister of State for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Zunaid Ahmed Palak, also requested ISPAB and COAB to withdraw their strike and assured them that a solution would be arrived at within a week.
Zunaid Ahmed Palak said: “I have spoken to the chief secretary to the prime minister and the prime minister's adviser on private investment. I will also talk to the mayor of DSCC. He is now out of the country. I urge the leaders of ISPAB and COAB to move away from their tough position.”
Based on the removal of illegal overhead cables DSCC, ISPAB, and NTTN (Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Networks) blamed each other.
Whether there is any tripartite conflict, the minister of state said it was not about the conflict. All of them were considering the reality from their own perspectives. It was a big task to set up cable points for each building in the city.
What ISPAB says
The president of ISPAB MA Hakim said: “We withdraw our strike from tomorrow [on Sunday] at the request of the minister.”
“As the ICT minister has assured us that they will discuss the issue with the prime minister and the decision will come from the prime minister, we will wait for the decision. Hope this decision will come soon,” he added.
Earlier, ISPAB and COAB announced a nationwide shutdown of internet services and cable network connections from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day from October 18 to protest the removal of overhead cables (hanging wires).
They said that without alternative arrangements and without giving them time DSCC had snapped their cables, resulting in a loss of Tk 20 crore.
The two city corporations started cutting overhead cables from August.
Last Monday, internet and cable operators warned at a press conference their decision to shut down internet connections and cable TV from October 18 if the overhead cable removal drive continued.
Following the strike decision, the Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (LGRD) Ministry sent letters to both the city corporations, asking them to stop the drive.