The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has issued its new ‘Directives on Service and Tariffs (2015)’ for all telecoms service operators, in the interests of consumer protection. Among the directives, the document published on the BTRC’s website states that a ‘regular’ (i.e. non-promotional) telecoms service/product must be made available for at least 365 consecutive days, while consumers retain the right to opt out as and when desired. Regarding minimum validity of pre-paid mobile credit top-ups, the BTRC sets a minimum ten-day validity for a BDT10-BDT30 (USD0.125-USD0.375) top-up, ranging up to 360 days for credits of BDT1,000 value or above (with seven cost/validity categories in total). The directives also include restrictions on usage of misleading language in promotional campaigns – with words such as ‘best’, ‘highest’ and ‘first’ banned in this context – whilst the guidelines also state that providers must avoid encouraging consumers into irrational or unnecessary heavy usage or pre-paid voice/data credit top-ups via promotions or standard products. The directives add that promotional bonuses, including call minutes, SMS, MMS or data volume, must be reasonably consumable within the stipulated time. Furthermore, operators must clearly label any third-party products offered to their customers, to differentiate them from their own products. Cellcos must also desist from the practice of ‘auto-renewal’ of data/internet and value added services and must obtain permission from the subscriber first. The framework says that operators may ‘resell’ a SIM card/phone number if the SIM is found to be unused for a period of two years. The BTRC’s document states that its latest directives are in addition to and complement existing laws and regulatory frameworks in Bangladesh.
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