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Govt may offer new licences for telecom transmission

The telecom ministry is going to provide more licences on national telecom transmission and internet exchanges to make internet available countrywide.

Abdul Latif Siddique, telecom and ICT minister, yesterday directed the regulatory chief to produce proposals for the new licences.

“I will issue an order immediately to provide these two types of licences if the BTRC chairman sends me the papers tomorrow,??? he said at a discussion on “promoting ICT sector enabling environment through public-private policy dialogue” at The Westin Dhaka.

The guidelines related to telecom transmissions will also be amended so that the operators having optical fibre cables can utilise those properly by renting to other business entities, the minister said.

Currently, there are two national telecommunication transmission network (NTTN) companies — Fiber@Home and Summit Communication — that provide optical fibre cable support to different operators or business entities for voice and internet. No other operators can rent out their cable capacity to other business entities.

At the same time, National Internet Exchange (NIX) is a new kind of licence that will connect all the local internet exchanges and gateways.

As there is no NIX in the country at present, local internet content routes through international transmission channels to reach the next door receiver, which increases internet costs.

Asia Foundation and Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) co-organised the policy dialogue, moderated by Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, vice chancellor of University of Asia Pacific.

downloadRepresentatives from internet exchanges, ICT firms and mobile operators and telecom-ICT experts were also present.

Sunil Kanti Bose, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), said the telecom transmission sector has been lagging, compared to other telecom entities, for the last seven years.

“The national transmission system should be robust for the development of the telecom and ICT sectors.??? Currently there are two NTTN licensees but two more licences are urgently required, he said.

Abu Saeed Khan, senior policy fellow at Colombo-based ICT think tank LIRNEasia, said, in 2008 the then BTRC offered the operators to share their infrastructure in a revolutionary move; but it killed the initiative in 2011.

Mobile operators Grameenphone, Banglalink and Citycell developed their countrywide optical fibre cable networks by spending $400 million, but due to the change in regulation in 2011, they could not make use of the investment, he added.

In another development in the seminar, the telecom minister suggested that the state-run Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL) be run through a public private partnership.

“I don’t want BTCL to be kept under the control of the ministry. I cannot make it a holding company, as it is not profitable.???

Source: Daily Star

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