Bangladesh : Still Expensive

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Believe it or not, for the residents of Bangladesh,

calling their relatives and friends in SAARC is more expensive than calling

someone in the US or UK.


The subcontinent in the twenty-first century is witnessing

a telecommunication boom, wherein tariff has touched an all time low. However,

when it comes to international long distance (ILD) calls to SAARC countries, it

is still expensive in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh offers an economical ISD to its 50.4 mn mobile

phone users (as per the last count on September 2009). A user has to punch some

codes on the cellphone before dialling. The call is routed on VoIP platform. The

voice quality is not good in comparison with the premium ISD, routed through

carrier operator in the respective country. However, economical ISD service is

cheaper, as the name suggests. A caller is charged Taka 6 per minute, while

talking on economical ISD, while the tariff goes up to Taka 16 on premium ISD.

Ironically, economical ISD is offered to some 150

countries, excluding SAARC region. "People will be benefited if the facility is

extended to the SAARC countries, including India and Pakistan, where a

Bangladeshi citizen has most of his/her relatives and friends, on foreign soil.

The cheaper rates will increase the volume of ISD calls. It will benefit the

service provider as well," says Md Saifur Rahman Khan, deputy general manager,

Teletalk Bangladesh.


A huge chunk of revenue goes to the government authorities

on every international call (both economical and premium) made or received while

roaming in Bangladesh. Only a minuscule part goes to the operator.

Of every call routed on the VoIP platform-having a call

rate of Taka 6 per minute-Taka 4.5 goes to the Internet Service Provider. Rest

of the moolah is split between authorities, operators, and international

exchange. Of the rest of Taka 1.5, 51% goes to Bangladesh authorities, 20% goes

to operator. Similar is the revenue sharing structure for premium ISD calls, 51%

of the leftover amount goes to the authorities, after paying carrier operator on

the foreign soil; and 20% to operators.


Similarly, when it comes to roaming tariff, 3 cents per

minute goes to the International Gateway Authority as termination charges. Again

51% of the leftover amount goes to the authorities, and 20% goes to the carrier


With a teledenesity of 29.7%, the country possesses a huge

opportunity for telecom operators. Every month, the country is adding 1.59 mn

telephone subscribers. Of them 1.49 mn are wireless customers.

"Only government can do something on this issue. First it

should cut down its revenue share, it will help us to get more revenue, and pass

the benefit to subscribers," says a senior official of a telecom operator,

pleading anonymity. "It will also generate more interest for operators on the

ILD front, as right now, they get peanuts. Competition will help to evolve the

market, which will be good for the industry as well as subscribers," he adds.

However, some changes can be possible on the regulatory

front. The Bangladesh government is bringing a new telecom policy. It is likely

that the government will limit the role of the powerful Bangladesh

Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC), having authority of both

licensing and spectrum in the country. Then the operators can have some relief.

Akhilesh Shukla