‘Consumers pay for data, not time’
The government is en route to devising a structure to automatically carry forward the unused mobile data of a subscriber, whenever they purchase a new data pack.
Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabber on Monday directed the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) in this regard, while also asking the commission to increase the validity time of the internet data packs.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, the Minister Mustafa Jabber said: ”Previously, when I was using mobile data, my auto renewal option would add the unused data to the new package. However, following several consumer complaints, it recently came to my attention that people are losing out on unused data due to time limits.”
“Consumers pay for data, not time. Forcing consumers on renewing data packs to use data they have already paid for breaches consumer rights,” he added.
Currently, mobile data users of Grameenphone, Robi, and Banglalink are unable to use any remaining data from a pack as soon as it expires.
However, some operators alert their subscribers prior to data pack expiration.
Nafish Ali, a subscriber of Banglalink, told Dhaka Tribune: “They send me an SMS every time my data pack is about to expire. However, they never mention the amount of unused data that I can save if I renew the bundle.”
“I have to go to my operator’s app, check, and then I occasionally repurchase the same pack to extend its validity,” he added.
Additionally, consumers have to pay a high price to retain the pack limit for a longer period.
For instance, data packs that can be bought from bKash for Banglalink subscribers show that 1 GB data with 3 days validity costs Tk31, while 1GB data with 30 days validity costs Tk76.
“For GP, 5 GB with 3 days validity costs Tk76 while 5GB for 30 days costs Tk299, as per its app,” pointed out another consumer who has registered sims with both operators.
According to Minister Jabbar, the design of the data packages is also not consumer-friendly, with consumers being charged more to retain the data pack for a longer period.
He also complained about the bandwidth performance of 4G cellular data. Farjana Rahman, a Grameenphone subscriber, also said she had a similar experience.
“Suppose I bought 1 GB of mobile data with 3 days validity due to a sudden poor performance from my local broadband internet providers. I end up not using the mobile data due to poor network connection, even though I am staying in an area with 4G coverage,” she said.
“Mobile bandwidth performance is so horrible that at the end of the day, I need to rely on that local broadband, which does not have any consistent bandwidth performance,” she added,
“Remember, I bought that data pack due to my area not having a high-quality broadband service in the first place, and now I cannot use it afterwards because of the validity being expired,” she further said.
Grameenphone could not answer Dhaka Tribune’s queries at the time of this report.