POST TIME: 21 November, 2018 09:23:42 AM
SMP guideline finalised
Creating level playing field for telecom sector; SMP guideline finalised GP likely to be considered as market power

SMP guideline finalised

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has finalised a policy guideline for telecom operators to create a level playing field and promote competition in telecommunications indutry.

Last Wednesday, the BTRC issued a gazette signed by BTRC Chairman Md Jahirul Haque in this regard. However, it was officially published yesterday.

The new guideline says an operator should be considered as a significant market power (SMP) if its market share is above 40 per cent.

If any operator violates the guideline, the commission will take action as per Section 64 of the Bangladesh

Telecommunication Act 2001(amended 2010). It also allows the regulator to impose a fine up to Tk. 300 crore and five years of jail in case of non-payment of the fine within the timeframe set by the commission.

According to the new guideline, the country’s leading mobile phone operator, Grameenpnone, will be considered as a SMP owing to its 46 per cent market share. The second largest mobile phone operator, Robi, enjoys 30 per cent of the market share, while Banglalink has 22 per cent of the market share.     

The special tariff and tax system will be applicable for any organisation incorporated in the SMP group, said the BTRC.

“We'll implement the guideline to create a level playing field and encourage competition in the telecommunications industry,” BTRC Chairman Md Jahirul Haque told The Independent yesterday (Tuesday).  

‘The guideline was supposed to be set up much earlier, but it got delayed due to different reasons. Now, the commission will focus on the implementation of the guideline’’, he added.

Md Jahirul Haque also said Grameenpnone was likely to be considered as an SMP in keeping with the new guideline.

In 2011, the BTRC planned to launch the policy and prepared the SMP guideline to this end. On August 21, 2011, it had sent the guideline to the posts and telecommunications ministry for approval.

In 2012, the Posts and Telecommunications Division requested the BTRC to scrutinise the guidelines under the Competitiveness Act of 2012. The BTRC sent the guideline back to the Division in the same year after scrutiny.

In 2015, the BTRC requested the Telecom Division to approve the guideline. Subsequently, the Posts and Telecommunications Division sent a letter to the BTRC in April, asking the regulator to review the guideline and to consider the opinions of the Investment Board, the industries ministry and the finance ministry once again.

In the same year, the BTRC forwarded the letters to the Investment Board, the industries ministry and the finance ministry, seeking its opinion on the SMP guideline.

The regulator also held a meeting with mobile phone operators to review their outlooks and recommendations.

Next, the BTRC brought about some changes in the guideline on the basis of the advice of the Investment Board and sent it to the ministry.

According to the International Telecommuni-ation Union (ITU), the creation of an enabling environment for efficient market competition is particularly important in protecting consumers, expanding the set of products and services available, and encouraging innovation.