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Dhaka Tribune

New guideline for ISPs en route

With the view to better controlling, monitoring and managing the ISPs, the guideline has made licencing based on the area where they would operate

Update : 07 Dec 2020, 12:28 AM

There is a new guideline for the internet service providers on the way and they are welcoming it as it clarified many of the grey areas in the existing one.

One of the major changes in the new guideline came in the licencing category, which can pave the way for foreign investment to the sector.

With the view to better controlling, monitoring and managing the ISPs, the guideline has made licencing based on the area where they would operate.

There are four categories of licences: nationwide, divisional, district and upazila. 

If an ISP wants to provide internet service at the district or upazila level for any specific area, they will have to take licence in that specific category.

“This was not the case before,” said Aminul Hakim, president of the Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB).

The ISPs have to cover at least 10 per cent of the district areas within a year, 50 per cent within three years and 100 per cent within 5 years. 

Currently, the annual fee for the nationwide licence is Tk 1 lakh, but under the new guideline, it will increase to Tk 2.5 lakh.

“This is manageable. If it was more than that, we would have to send a plea to the government for reducing it,” Hakim said, adding that the guideline would be good for the industry in general.

They also cannot sell bandwidth to any ISP, according to the new guideline.

The ISPs have to buy bandwidth from the International Internet Gateway (IIG) operators.

“Earlier, the rules about buying bandwidth were unclear,” Mustafa Jabbar, post and telecommunication minister, told Dhaka Tribune.

The ISPs were not given licences for selling bandwidth but for providing internet. But many tended to sell bandwidth.

“This guideline will bring back discipline in this sector.”

The licence fee has been synthesised. 

“Besides, there is an issue of getting revenue and we want real businessmen to get the ISP licence only as many are inactive after getting the license. We hope the quality of internet service will improve after this guideline,” Jabbar added.

The guideline, which has been in the works for four years and entailed discussion with all stakeholders, was approved by the Department of Posts and Telecommunications recently and sent to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission for final approval.

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