'The operators acknowledged they were in the wrong'
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) on Tuesday withdrew its order on December 20 barring Robi and Banglalink from providing telecommunication value-added services (TVAS) after the two pledged never to charge subscribers for the service without consent.
Save for voice calls, text messages and data, all other services are considered as TVAS, and investigation by the telecom regulator found the two operators were charging the subscribers for the service without their permission.
Subsequently, the two operators were instructed to stop the services from December 21 until further notice.
“The operators acknowledged they were in the wrong and sought time to correct the issues. Based on their pleas, we have temporarily withdrawn the previous order with some conditions,” Subroto Roy Maitra, vice-chairman of the BTRC, told Dhaka Tribune.
Robi and Banglalink will have to take permission from the consumers through a short message for the service.
The final decision would be taken in the next meeting of the regulator, where the issues would be discussed broadly to correct and to avoid misconduct for the sake of subscribers, he added.
“We are in the process of implementing BTRC’s directive regarding the TVAS issue,” Shahed Alam, the chief corporate and regulatory officer of Robi, told Dhaka Tribune.
As per the regulator’s directive, the operator will also make sure that without ensuring proper compliance the TVAS operators are not provided access to its network.
“We also concur with the BTRC’s opinion regarding the strengthening of mobile operators’ control over the TVAS operators,” he added.
Taimur Rahman, chief corporate and regulatory affairs officer at Banglalink, said: “We appreciate the BTRC's decision to reconsider the restriction on providing TVAS by us considering the greater benefits of customers.”
Earlier in October, a BTRC survey found about 46 per cent of TVAS provided by the content providers in the telecommunication sector through mobile operators are activated and charged without consent of mobile subscribers.
Based on the survey findings and recommendations, the BTRC sent a letter to all chief executive officers of mobile operators on September 14 asking them to introduce one-time passwords to activate the services by September 30.
The most common TVAS are SMS, MMS, mobile internet, missed call alert, call block, voice mail, balance recharge service, welcome tunes and lifestyle/health tips.