July 8, 2009

PSTN to Lose Links with Mobile Networks

Mobile phone operators have decided to hang up trade with private fixed-phone (PSTN) operators from Wednesday due to outstanding bill amounting to Tk 48 crore, says AMTOB, a move that will influence some 600,000 phone users.

"Fixed-phone operators are not paying their interconnection fees, although they are still collecting revenue from their customers," Zakirul Islam, president of the Association of Mobile Telephone Operators in Bangladesh (AMTOB), told on Tuesday. Islam said his association had sent a letter to the telecommunication ministry as well as the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) on the matter.

Abdur Rouf Chowdhury, president of the Association of PSTN Operators of Bangladesh, told, however, there was "no truth to the claims"
as all required payments had been made. "We had earlier urged the BTRC to reduce the interconnection fees between mobile operators and PSTN operators from Tk 0.40 to Tk 0.18 per minute, at a meeting also attended by AMTOB," said Chowdhury.

"The BTRC at the time told us to suspend our payments until a settlement was reached," he said. The fee was eventually dropped to Tk 0.18 a minute, and payments were resumed, said Chowdhury. "The only fees that remain unpaid are from the period BTRC told us not to make payments," he said. Around 600,000 subscribers to private fixed-line phones would not be able to call out to or receive calls from mobile phones as a result of AMTOB's decision.

In a statement Tuesday, AMTOB said fixed-phone operators failed to pay over Tk 48 crore due to mobile operators from Feb 2007 up to first quarter of 2009, though they were collecting fixed call charges their subscribers for off-net calls to the mobile network. The statement said BTRC had requested AMTOB to give PSTN operators up to June 30, 2009 to make the payments

"But most of the fixed-phone operators did not pay their dues, even by the June 30 deadline, in spite of the goodwill shown by mobile operators time and again," said AMTOB president.

The mobile operators will restore the interconnection service as soon as the dues are cleared, AMTOB said.

Update July 16, 2009

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the senior executives of the mobile operators and the land phone companies to realise the outstanding bills of Tk 480 million (48 crore) from the land phone companies. The MoU was signed under the mediation of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) at the office of the commission at the Institute of Engineers, Bangladesh in the city.


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