Internet Service Providers Association Bangladesh or ISPAB has alleged irregularities in a move to award to two firms a government project for proving 2,600 unions with high-speed internet.
They also said the sector will face ‘great danger’ if the NTTN operators get the job.
Bangladesh Computer Council or BCC, which is implementing the project, however, denies the allegation.
The council says the allegation was incorrect and there is no scope of confusion over the issue.
The Executive Committee of National Economic Council or ECNEC cleared the around Tk 20 billion project in December last year to provide high-speed internet by bringing the 2,600 unions under a fibre optic cable broadband network by 2018.
ISPAB President MA Hakim said the press call at a hotel in Dhaka that two purchase proposals for the project were placed for clearance of the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase on Aug 9.
Once cleared, the proposals will allow the two NTTN operators the opportunity to get work orders for setting up the optical fibre network and supplying internet to 200,000 government and private organisations and other levels of consumers at a government-fixed price.
The two firms – Summit Communications and Fiber@Home – will get around Tk 3.8 billion to do the jobs, according to ISPAB chief Hakim.
He specified four irregularities in floating tender, evaluation of bids, recommendation for clearance of work order and fixing areas of work for the firms that are getting the work order.
ISPAB said ECNEC approved floating of tenders in eight phases, but the BCC invited bids in only two phases.
Only Summit and Fiber@Home submitted biddong in the two phases and got recommendation to implement the project in 1,307 and 1,293 unions respectively.
ISPAB President Hakim alleged BCC went beyond its authority in floating the tenders to favour these two firms. “It is a clear violation of the Government Rules of Business.”
He also alleged that there was no scope of competition as the two NTTN operators divided the work between themselves on the basis of a ‘mutual agreement’
According to the Telecommunication Act, firms with NTTN licence have the authority to set up and maintain national telecom networks and rent the networks to Access Network Service operators , which provide internet at the consumer level.
The third allegation brought by the ISPAB is that the NTTN operators will get the opportunity to provide internet at consumer level despite having no legal authority.
According to the fourth allegation, the BCC recommended 20-year work order under the tenders but the licences of the NTTN firms are valid for only 15 years.
“No firm can sign any contract beyond the term of their licence,” Hakim said.
The ISPAB sought Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s intervention to stop these alleged irregularities.
ISPAB General Secretary Mohammad Imdadul Haque and Vice-President FM Rashed Amin Bidyut, among others, were present.
No senior officer at the ICT Division commented on the matter.
Later, the BCC denied the allegations. It said in a statement that it had ‘permission of proper authorities’ to combine the eight tender packages into two and the move was based on the state of current NTTN network.
It said no rule has been violated in this process and it will be added to the project proposal during amendment.
In reaction to the allegation that the firms divided the work between themselves, the council said bidders fix the price in open tenders and the related laws were followed in calling and evaluating the tenders.
About the third allegation, the BCC said the NTTN operators sell internet bandwidth to the ISPs who provide internet to consumers. It said the same procedure will be followed in the ‘Info Sarker-3’ project.
“There is no scope of confusion here,” it said in the statement.
About the terms of licences of the NTTN operators, the BCC said the operators proposed to maintain, repair, upgrade and do other work relating to the optical fibre network for 20 years.
“The NTTN firms will sell bandwidth to ISPs at a government-fixed price afterwards,” the statement said.
Neither Summit, nor Fiber@Home commented on the allegation that they have divided the work on a ‘mutual agreement’.