Sep 24
GP breached rules over internet services to Sonali Bank: regulator PDF Print E-mail

Mobile operator Grameenphone has provided internet services to Sonali Bank violating rules, the telecom regulator said yesterday.

Grameenphone established a fibre optic connectivity to facilitate online transactions of the bank, which is against the licensing rules of a mobile operator.

Mobile operators are allowed to provide internet services only through mobile devices and modems.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission will now ask the operator to discontinue the service and explain why a fine will not be slapped on it.

The network solutions were provided to the state-run bank through Go Broadband, which is a high-speed internet service brought by Agni Systems and ADN Telecom in partnership with Grameenphone.

Though the regulator is not putting any blame on Agni Systems and ADN Telecom, warning letters will be sent to them, said BTRC Chairman Shahjahan Mahmood.

Officials of the telecom regulator said Grameenphone signed an agreement with Sonali Bank in December 2014 to establish last-mile connectivity for the bank through a fibre optic.

But rules do not permit a mobile operator to deploy fibre optic cables.

BTRC said Grameenphone has connected 551 remote branches of Sonali Bank under the GO Broadband service.

“Grameenphone cannot be involved in internet business except for mobile internet. But here they are doing this business putting Agni Systems and ADN Telecom on the front,” another BTRC official said.

Grameenphone declined to respond to the allegation but said: “We have not received any information from the BTRC and so cannot comment at this time.”

“We will respond when we have clarity on why the BTRC approval has allegedly been rescinded," the operator said in a statement yesterday.

While giving the approval to Go Broadband in 2013, the regulator had said only Agni Systems and ADN Telecom would provide the Wi-Max service. Grameenphone was only allowed to share its passive infrastructure like office spaces and marketing channels for the service.

The issue came to the fore after Internet Service Providers' Association of Bangladesh or ISPAB in a written complaint told the regulator that GO Broadband is providing fibre optic connections to some banks.

“We have learnt that they have signed an agreement with Sonali Bank to offer services through fibre optic connections, which is a violation of rules,” ISPAB President MA Hakim said in the letter, urging the regulator to open a probe into the issue.

According to rules, ISPs can offer connectivity to users like banks and other service providers, but for doing so they have to be connected via fibre optic cables of Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN) operators.

But no ISPs or NTTN operators were involved in the agreement between Grameenphone and Sonali Bank.

After getting the complaint from the ISPAB, the telecom regulator sought clarification from Grameenphone. But BTRC was not satisfied with the mobile operator's reply. Grameenphone said it has established a fibre optic connection of about five lakh kilometres for the 551 branches of Sonali Bank.

The regulator termed the network “the largest illegal telecom network” in the country's history.

The mobile operator earned Tk 5,000 a month from each branch, according to the agreement, which was initially for three years with a provision of extension.

(Source - The Daily Star)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 June 2016 12:06