The Post and Telecommunications Division has asked mobile telecom operators to make it clear how they fix the retail price of internet bandwidth amid confusions over the pricing issue.
The telecoms division sought the clarification from the operators in a meeting on adjustment of internet bandwidth price on Wednesday.
The operators have been asked to publish notices in newspapers to inform the customers about the process of fixing the price, State Minister for Post and Telecommunications Tarana Halim told the media after the meeting.
“The operators were called…We are seeing media reports and Facebook posts questioning why the price is so high at the consumer level,” she said.
“The operators have been given two days to clarify whether there is any dupery in fixing the price,” she added.
According to the state minister, the government has reduced the internet bandwidth price to Tk 625 a megabyte per second, which was Tk 27,000 in 2009.
“We’ve asked if this has any reflection at the consumer level,” Tarana said.
According to regulators BTRC, Bangladesh has recorded around 67.25 million internet users, including 63.12 million mobile internet users in February.
The users have been alleging in social media posts that the operators are charging many times more at the consumer level than the wholesale price of internet bandwidth. The media have also published reports on the matter.
Tarana said the operators would have to point out if something incorrect was written in the reports.
The operators said in the meeting that there were ‘confusing information in the campaign over the issue’, according to her.
“For instance, there is confusion between the wholesale and retail prices, speed and volume,” she said, quoting the operators.
“What the MNOs say is confusing one thing with another led to a miscalculation which is not based on the information; this also includes VAT, taxes, production and maintenance costs,” Tarana said.
According to the operators, mobile internet users buy internet data plans with various time-limits and sizes. The prices include 15 percent value added tax, 5 percent supplementary tax, and 1 percent surcharge.
“But finally we asked the operators to clarify all the points within two days so that the people can know whether there is any deception,” the state minister said.
She also said the government was trying to cut internet bandwidth price at the user level besides removing the ‘confusion’.
She claimed internet data price is the third lowest in Bangladesh. “But we are trying to cut the price at the consumer level by reducing taxes, VAT. We will speak to the finance minister over the matter.
“The operators have also been asked to make a proposal within two days by exploring whether they can cut the price in revenue-sharing model and cost-sharing model.”
She was hopeful that a decision on cutting the price would be reached within six months.
Representatives of Nationwide Telecommunication Network, Internet Service Providers and Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited were also present at the meeting.