First News
Volume:7, Number:32
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Business & Finance 1
THIS WEEK

Call Drop and Promotional SMS

| Afsana Khan |

BTRC and the telecom operators are engaged in dialogue over growing numbers of call drops and promotional text messages with no practical solution in sight yet

The clients of the mobile phone services are highly dissatisfied with the increasing number of call drops, and frequent disturbance of promotional SMSs. There are also many complaints about the loopholes in the auto renewal, validity and payment system of various Internet package and call rate offers. The clients have long been demanding for compensation for each dropped call-minute, and reduced promotional SMSs, to no avail. Even though Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has ordered the mobile service operators not to send the clients any promotional SMS between 12.00am and 6.00am, the mobile operators are not paying any attention to it.

BTRC could not finish preparing a guideline for the operators named “Do Not Disturb” in the last four years. While some initiatives have been taken about the call drop issue, most of them are yet to be effective. Tarana Halim, state minister for Post and Telecommunication, said, “We are continuously providing guidelines to BTRC for monitoring whether the mobile operating companies are properly following the directives or not. The ministry has sent a letter to BTRC with instructions on increasing customer service. The ministry cannot ensure its implementation. BTRC will have to listen to the clients.”

As per International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standard, more than 3 percent call drop rate a day requires the operators to compensate the customers. However, the mobile operators are claiming that the current call drop rate is well within the permissible limit. On January 15, 2016, after a meeting with the chief executive officers (CEO) of the mobile telecom operators at the secretariat, Tarana Halim also sided with the mobile operators. “We asked the operators to submit the list of calls and call drops from January so that we can check whether the rate is really within the accepted limit set by the ITU,” she said.

It has been known that the mobile phone operating companies assess the call drop rates by themselves and prepare the list without the involvement of any independent second party. As a result, BTRC has no way to determine whether the provided data is correct. However, BTRC has recently purchased some equipment to assess the call drop rates more accurately. The equipment has to be installed in a particular area to get correct data about the call drop rate in that particular area. Based on that data, it will be easier to hold the operators accountable.

BTRC chairman Dr. Shahjahan Mahmud said, “ BTRC maintains strict monitoring to ensure proper customer service. We have bought some new equipment. Once they are put into use, we will be able to ensure better customer service. Moreover, the promotional SMSs will be monitored as well.” Regarding the quality of customer service, the operators have a very high opinion about themselves. They claim that they are providing the highest level of service at an affordable cost, and the usual call drop rate is less than one percent in the country.

Hossain, the head of corporate affairs of Grameen Phone, said, “ We are providing world-class mobile network in our country. Even many developed countries do not have a network like ours. The customer service is constantly being upgraded. It is an ongoing process. If a client calls the 121 customer service helpline of Grameenphone, the call will be received within 30 seconds.”

Along with the call drop issue, the clients are also quite irritated by the frequent promotional SMSs from the operators. Sometimes these SMSs are being sent after midnight, which is a clear violation of the BTRC rule. If BTRC’s “Do Not Disturb” guidelines were finalized, the clients would have benefited from it. Banglalink’s head of government affairs, HM Hasinul Kuddus, insisted that Banglalink never deliberately sends any SMS during the restricted hours. “Sometimes it takes quite a while to deliver an SMS due to network problems, which might be the reason behind this situation, “he said. There are complaints of ambiguities and complications over the Internet services. Poor Internet connection, ambiguity regarding the price and validity of the packages, mobile data charges despite having package deals, etc., are some of the most common complaints customers have had for a long time.

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