Fresh SMP restrictions coming for GP: BTRC

Fresh restrictions on Grameenphone by the telecom regulator is underway for becoming a Significant Market Power (SMP), reports BSS. Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has started the procedure following some new and previous criteria to break down the monopolistic dominance of the country’s leading mobile phone operator in the market, said officials.

BTRC Chairman Md. Jahurul Haque told the state news agency that a notice was served on Grameenphone giving time for 15 days regarding the SMG and the operator has already given its reply. “The commission would take the final decision on SMP restrictions soon maintaining the previous procedure,” he said, replying to a query regarding the procedures and criteria as well as the possible time of decision announcing.

Earlier, on February 10 this year, the regulator declared Grameenphone as the operator with SMP and then slapped four restrictions to bring equilibrium in the market, which include a ban on signing any exclusive deal with goods and service providers. Other three restrictions are call drop rate reduction, cap on customers base, and publicity and marketing. These four restrictions were picked up from a list of 20 conditions fixed by the regulator for SMP operator.

However, the regulator suspended the SMP restrictions following some procedural weakness and initiated a fresh move on it. The SMP is a regulation that imposes restrictions on an operator once it bags 40 percent of the subscribers, revenues and spectrum. As of March this year, Grameenphone has over 46 percent share of the active customer base. For the last few years, the operator’s revenue share has been more than 50 percent. At the end of March, their active SIM number stood at 7.40 crore, as per BTRC statistics.

Officials said the issue of SMP has been expedited after a recent meeting at the posts and telecommunications division among the high ups of the government and authorities concerned. In the meeting, some new decisions were taken regarding SMG operators. As part of SMP, they said, per minute call charge of Grameenphone is set to increase to create a level playing field for other operators.

Currently, the minimum call rate for operators is Taka 0.45 for each minute and after adding the value-added tax and other duties the charge goes up to Taka 0.54 for a minute to any operator. However, Grameenphone is already charging higher than the market average at Taka 0.70 per minute. Besides, the data charge of Grameenphone could also be increased for SMP along with strict vigilance on quality of services (QoS). “If Grameenphone fails to comply with QoS parameters, restriction could be imposed on new customer acquisition,” added the officials.