BTRC to evaluate ISP business, services

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The total number of broadband internet users is now 5.73 lakh

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has decided to conduct a financial and technical evaluation on the country’s internet service providers (IPSs) to minimize their business risk and improve customer services.

The BTRC move came following the slow growth of the broadband internet connectivity in the country as the ISPs added only 8,000 new internet users in January-November period of the outgoing year. 

The total number of broadband internet users is now 5.73 lakh.

“The evaluation decision was taken last month amid a plan to launch the 5G technology in near future. We need to prepare our broadband internet service before launching the latest internet technology,” a BTRC official told Dhaka Tribune.

He said the evaluation would look into the financial and technical capacity of the ISPs to determine the next course of action about the industry.

BTRC officials said the commission and the telecom ministry were also working on an ISP guideline to improve quality of service of the ISPs.

“Formulation of ISP guideline started back in 2017 but delayed due to disagreement among stakeholders. The matter has been pending for more than two years. Few months back the guideline draft was sent to the ministry for feedbacks,” he said.

In 2017, when the commission was at the final stage of formulating guidelines on ISP business, the telecom ministry had instructed the BTRC to refrain from framing the guidelines at that moment.

A strong opposition from ISPs forced the government to put hold the finalization of the guidelines.

The guidelines, which were drafted in 2017, proposed ISPs licence fee at Tk 25 lakh for nationwide service and Tk5 lakh in  annual license fee.

The urban service providers will have to pay Tk15 lakh in licence fee along with Tk3 lakh in annual licence fee.

Currently, nationwide and urban ISPs have to pay Tk2 lakh in licence fee and Tk1 lakh in annual licence fee.

The BTRC recently issued a number of directives to the ISPs on security grounds that include keeping user log for one year and introducing parental control for users.

According to the latest BTRC data, 1,478 entities are now operating ISP business across the country. Of them, 146 entities provide nationwide internet services, 103 at central zones, 49 at zonal levels.