It has emerged that two Bangladeshi fixed line operators have filed lawsuits totalling BDT15.13 billion (USD190.8 million) against the country’s telecoms regulator, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). The firms, National Telecom (which trades as NationalPhone) and WorldTel, claim that the watchdog was acting outside of its remit when it closed them down three years ago. They filed separate suits back in May this year and are claiming BDT9.60 billion and BDT5.53 billion respectively, the Dhaka Tribune reports. A third operator, Dhaka Phone, is planning on launching its own case against the regulator. Two other companies – RanksTel and PeoplesTel – had their concessions cancelled at the same time, with the BTRC claiming that the five telcos had engaged in illegal international call termination through voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) technology.
Although National Telecom subsequently had its licence reinstated in May 2012, the operator’s managing director, Mohammad Jahangir, said: ‘We have been compelled to take this step as we have big term loans and debts to settle and repay with banks.’ He said the suit was a reflection of the extensive damage that the firm’s business and reputation had suffered due to the sudden stoppage and subsequent forced closure of services for more than two and a half years. Like National Telecom, RanksTel and WorldTel have regained their concessions and restarted operations.
In a separate development, the BTRC is reportedly looking to reclaim unused spectrum from nine fixed wireless licensees. According to a report from local newspaper the Daily Star, the regulator is seeking to redistribute frequencies in the 450MHz, 850MHz, 1800MHz and 1900MHz bands. The operators said to hold spectrum which is not currently in use include Tele Barta (Jubok Phone), National Telecom, WorldTel, Jalalabad Telecom, Westec, OneTel, SA Telecom, Nextel Telecom and Integrated Services (Sheba Phone). While some of the firms are currently operational, others have been mothballed and are now at risk of having their licences cancelled altogether, the BTRC says.