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Telecom Laws and Rights of the Consumers

Telecom Laws and Rights of the Consumers

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Published by: Oli Md. Abdullah Chowdhury on Nov 14, 2009
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09/04/2010

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Law and Our Rights
 “All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-
Article 27 of theConstitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh 
Law campaign
Telecommunication laws and rights of the consumers
Abu Zayed Mohammad and Oli Md. Abdullah Chowdhury
 
Bangladesh Telecommunication Act (Act 18 of 2001) paved the way for the establishment of Bangladesh Telecommunication RegulatoryCommission (BTRC). There had been hardly anyindependent monitoring mechanism for thetelecommunication sector before BTRC came intobeing. Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board(BTTB) had the sole monopoly and they were theonly telecom operator until mobile phonetechnology flourished and foreign companies(trans-national corporations) started operating inBangladesh. Earlier laws and regulation neithercovered modern aspect of telecommunication norwere the regulatory implementation mechanismsin place.After foreign mobile operators started their operations in Bangladesh, BTTB faced intensecompetitions. Consumers were gradually turning their faces towards mobile companies thoughservice charges of these operators were relatively higher in the initial years. In this changingoperating environment, necessity was felt for a regulator. BTTB was unable to be a regulator as itwas also service provider and competitor for the private sector. In order to regulatetelecommunication sector, Bangladesh Telecommunication Act was promulgated. It has been statedin Section 6 of the Act, “On the commencement of this Act, a Commission to be known as theBangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission shall be established”.Status of consumers in the telecom sectorAccording to the website of BTRC, the total number of mobile phone active subscribers has reached46.50 million at the end of April 2009. Though the number of subscribers is quite huge, consumershave got little attention in the telecommunication sector. Call charges went down due to intensecompetition, although there are allegations of hidden charges for different offers and packagesoffered by the different service providers. Giant operators often block access to other networks andconsumers fail to get connection during peak hours. There are other forms of exploitation alsoreported by consumers and the media. There are specific allegations against mobile operators forbreaking the laws of the land. One such example is the recently reported case (Case No. 46 underGulshan Police Station, Dhaka), filed by BTRC on Jan 16, 2008 against Grameenphone for illegalVoIP business. It is not the first instance though. Earlier in 2007, most of the private operators paidfines for facilitating illegal VOIPs trading.Such irregularities and alleged illegalities also raise questions about the relationship of thetelecommunication service providers with their customers. As per the purview of the BangladeshTelecommunications Act, it has been stated in Section 59 (1) “Every operator providingtelecommunication service shall establish sufficient number of complain-centres so that he cancollect information on the inconvenience or complain of the consumers in respect of that service orrelated matters, and shall, form time to time, publish notice about the location of, andcommunication with, such centres”. It has been articulated further in the later sub-section, ”Anyconsumer may, by telephone message or written complaint, present his inconvenience or complain”.If operator fails to address the issue or consumer is not happy, Telecommunication Act still providesoption for consumers.Moreover, there is provision in the law to complain directly to regulating authority. There is also a
http://www.thedailystar.net/law/2009/05/04/index.htm (1 of 2)11/5/2009 11:34:48 AM

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