• Monday, Nov 18, 2019
  • Last Update : 06:13 pm

Mobile phone call drops persist, faster internet still a distant reality

  • Published at 09:21 pm July 11th, 2019
Representational photo Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Wireless operators do not have enough spectrum, says Jabbar

Even as mobile phone users continue to complain about regular call drops and poor internet services, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is yet to take any steps to address the problem.

Some users say they face call drop problems five to six times a day and that they often have to wait for a long time to get through. Mobile subscribers are also complaining about getting 2G or 3G in places where they are supposed to get 4G internet services, reports UNB.  

Between November 6 and 8 of 2018, the BTRC conducted a Quality of Service (QoS) test in 15 areas of the capital. It made 3,300 machine generated calls with a duration of 90 seconds. Similar tests were conducted in other cities.

Test reports showed GP, the country's largest mobile operator, recorded a call drop rate of 3.38 percent. Second largest operator Robi's call drop rate was 1.35 percent while Banglalink's rate was 0.58 percent, and state-owned Teletalk's drop rate was 1.58 percent.

But the BTRC and the International Telecommunication Union set 3 percent as the limit.  Grameenphone took an average of 10.14 seconds to connect to the dialed number. The time was 6.15 seconds for Robi, 7.69 seconds for Banglalink, and 7.11 seconds for Teletalk. 

In this case, the BTRC set 7 seconds as the benchmark for connecting to a dialed number.  4G internet speed was also tested.

The BTRC has set 7 Mbps as the minimum speed for 4G carriers. But the speed provided by the top three mobile operators was below the minimum limit set by the state telecom regulator.

The average downlink speed of GP was 5.88 Mbps, 5.91 Mbps was recorded for Robi, and 5.18 Mbps for Banglalink. 

State run Teletalk was not operating as a 4G carrier at the time of testing.

"We've received lots of complaints about dropped calls. Even ministers are facing the problem," Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar said, when asked about the situation.

He said the BTRC has been directed to take action against those concerned.

Jabbar said mobile network operators in the country do not have enough spectrum to handle the large number of subscribers.

"The number of dropped calls is high among GP users as it (the company) handles comparatively more subscribers. But there's no scope to compromise the quality of service," he added.  

Asked about GP's call drop issues, BTRC Chairman Jahurul Haque noted that all the operators had some problems. "We take action to solve issues whenever subscribers lodge complaints," he said. 

Brig Gen (retd) SM Farhad, secretary general of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB), said operators always try to reduce the number of dropped calls.

Asked why the operators do not purchase spectrum, he said it is expensive compared to other countries. "Operators are interested in purchasing spectrum, but they don't proceed due to the high prices. They'll buy if the price is reduced."