Govt blocks mobile networks along borders with India

Following an order of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), country’s mobile phone operators on Monday suspended their networks up to one kilometre along the borders with India. The BTRC on Sunday night directed the mobile phone operators to block their networks signal up to one kilometre along the borders with India citing security reasons.

The four operators of the country have closed around 2,000 base transceiver stations, an official of an operator said requesting anonymity. “This will create problems for around 10 million users in the border areas,” the official said. The BTRC, in its order directed Grameenphone, Teletalk, Robi and Banglalink, said the network coverage in the border areas will have to be suspended until further notice “for the sake of the country’s security in the current circumstances”.

“This is not our ministry’s decision. It came from other ministries, and we just forwarded it,” Post and Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar told media. He, however, said the decision was made following a consensus of three to four ministries, and the foreign ministry was leading the efforts.

“Security of the state is the government’s first priority, and that’s why the government has made the decision,” Jabbar said. “A high-level meeting of the government took the decision, following which the instructions were issued,” BTRC Chairman Jahurul Haque told reporters, declining to give further explanations.

The instructions were “temporary”, he added. A BTRC official said the decision was affected about one crore subscribers in 32 districts that have borders with India and Myanmar. However, Jabbar said, “As far as we know, a neighbouring country has already blocked signals in its border areas.”