GP Goes to Court against BTRC's SMP Instructions

Once again, Grameenphone, the country's largest telecommunications provider, submitted a writ petition against the regulatory authority enforcing SMP instructions on the operator.

Last Monday, the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC) put two requirements on GP under the Significant Market Power (SMP) Guidelines, which seek to establish a level playing field for all telecommunications operators.

Confirming the writ petition, a BTRC legal department official acknowledged the filing of the writ petition.

He said he heard GP filed a writ petition with the High Court on Sunday seeking the cancelation of two GP terms.

"But the petition has not yet been notified to BTRC," he said.

The imposition came after one and a half years of SMP guidelines.

In February last year, the BTRC declared GP as an SMP operator in attribution that opened the path for engineering several strategic moves to curb its dominance in the local telecom market.

Later, GP went to court to stop the move BTRC finally won.

On 15 December last year, the HC bench, led by Justice Farah Mahbub, passed an order authorizing the BTRC to enforce the Important Market Power Regulations 2018.

After five months, BTRC put two requirements on GP, namely the authorization prior to the launch of any plan, program, and product, and also the authorization of current products and services.

Usually, the BTRC approves packages for one year and then the operators are allowed running such packages for more than one year, subject to intimation to the commission.

The other drawback is to raising the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) lock-in duration from 90 days to 60 days.

It ensures that every GP customer will now be allowed to migrate to other providers within 60 days under the MNP program, whereas subscribers from other providers would be needed 90 days before moving to GP.

Nevertheless, Grameenphone noted that the regulations deviate from the requirements of the SMP Regulations and are not focused on facts of market failure.

Last Monday, Hossain Sadat, Director, Public and Regulatory Affairs of Grameenphone Ltd., said that the mobile telecommunications sector in Bangladesh is competitive and Grameenphone has expanded through timely acquisition, innovation and operational performance.

"The more current impositions deviate from the requirements of the SMP Regulations and are not focused on proof of business loss," he added.

Mr Sadat has claimed that such asymmetrical taxations are anti-competitive in design, which he claims are not in the interests of customers and would have a detrimental effect on the national treasury and investment climate.

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