Mobile operators have to cut data price: Mustafa Jabbar

Hitlar A Halim
Published : 07:30, Oct 26, 2018 | Updated : 07:30, Oct 26, 2018

ICT and Telecoms Minister Mustafa Jabbar. FILE PHOTOMobile internet price is high in Bangladesh and the operators will have to cut it, says Telecoms and ICT Minister Mustafa Jabbar.
“I can assure you the price will come down and it will be finalised before the national election,” he said during a recent interview with Bangla Tribune.
Jabbar, who was sworn in as a technocrat minister on Jan 2 this year, had pledged revising down internet price and ensuring better service by mobile phone operators.
He claimed that they were somewhat successful on the matter of quality service for mobile phone users.
“The information available with me suggests that the internet price has to come down. We will make those concerned to cut it,” said the telecoms minister.
The government has been able to identify the ‘gaps’ in the process of mobile operators buying bandwidth and selling data to users, he said.
“Whenever I raised the issue with operators, I was told they add very little margin to the cost. But I have all the information now and I can point them out where they are making hefty profits. So, they have to cut the price.”
Jabbar told Bangla Tribune that it’s clear and backed by evidence that cost of mobile internet is rather high in Bangladesh for end users.
“The data pricing method is all wrong ... mobile operators are transforming bandwidth bought from IIGs to package data for internet users, which means there’s an opportunity to adjust price if we focus on this conversion,” said the minister.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has been tasked to work out a cost model based on a report from the International Telecommunication Union, he said. “As far as my knowledge, the BTRC is at its final stages with that.”
Responding to a query on what he feels has left undone after taking charge of telecoms, Jabbar said it was pricing of mobile data and broadband internet.
He, however, described the rise in bandwidth usage since February as an achievement.
“After we rolled out 4G mobile network, bandwidth use has gone up by 70 to 80 percent. When I took charge it was 500 to 550 GbPS, which is now over 800 GbPS.”
He said that the international incoming call during the Eids this year came down by 25 percent compared to last year.
“The rise in the use of different types of apps is the underlying reason and it indicates that people has shifted to data from voice. So our priority is now data,” the minister told Bangla Tribune.
On the successes during his 10 months as the telecoms and ICT minister, Jabbar said, “My prime responsibility was to complete the ongoing telecoms projects and to update those which will not finish. I started with launching 4G and until now my job was to clear the backlogs from licensing to regulations and the Act.”
Jabbar said when he took office the projects under the ICT Division were not producing any outcome.
“I had to intervene in almost all the projects and had to change the DPPs (detailed project plan). Now there’s not a single project in ICT Division I am apprehensive of.”