Bangladesh’s total number of PSTN subscribers fell by almost 700,000 from 1.72 million at the end of March to 1.03 million at end-May following the government’s decision to suspend the operations of five out of 13 fixed line providers in a crackdown on alleged illegal VoIP services. Local newspaper The Financial Express quotes the figures from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), which raided the premises of RanksTel, Dhaka Phone, PeoplesTel, WorldTel and National Telecom in March and decided to cancel their respective licences on 12 May; the five telcos accounted for around 600,000 lines between them. The report claims that they suffered collective revenue losses of around BDT300 million (USD4.42 million) in the last three months whilst the jobs of some 1,500 employees are in doubt. The largest of the private sector firms, RanksTel, had a fixed user base of around 300,000 in March, and its chief operating officer AK Shamsuddin said that it is losing net revenue of around BDT50 million to BDT70 million per month due to the forced closure. RanksTel has filed a High Court petition challenging the BTRC’s actions, and a hearing commences on 4 July.
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