Bangladesh Mobile Operator Opposes Reduction in Internet Packages, Citing Customer Choice and Satisfaction
Bangladesh’s mobile operator, Robi, strongly opposes the move by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to reduce the number of internet packages from 95 to 40, and discontinue three-day and seven-day packages. Robi’s chief corporate and regulatory officer, Shahed Alam, argues that this decision restricts customer choice and imposes higher costs on grassroots, low-income, and young users.
Alam highlights that after implementing a package limit of 95 last year, there were no customer complaints regarding the excessive number of packages. Even when Robi offered 300 packages, customers did not express dissatisfaction with the variety. Additionally, he mentions that despite claims of an overwhelming product portfolio, customers typically encounter only around five packages.
Robi designs its products to cater to over 55 million customers, taking into account the specific requirements of customers of diverse segments. The company leverages artificial intelligence and data analytics to tailor its offerings and closely monitors that no individual customer is exposed to more than 5-6 product options.
The BTRC’s directive, set to take effect on October 15, aims to reduce confusion among customers who face numerous package options and often fail to use all the data before its expiry. However, Alam argues that offering packages without a validity period would burden customers, and the pricing structure considers not only bandwidth costs but also licensing fees and various overheads.
Furthermore, Alam believes that these regulatory moves will stifle competition. He emphasizes that the decline in data prices since 2013 has been driven by the fiercely competitive market, and reducing the number of data packages or discontinuing three-day and seven-day packages is unwarranted.
While customer complaints about service quality do exist, Alam explains that occasional issues in certain locations are inherent to cellular networks and are being diligently addressed. The release of additional spectrum by the BTRC last year requires time and investment to configure this capacity across all their sites. However, Alam remains optimistic that all mobile operators will have completed spectrum configuration by year-end, leading to a notable enhancement in service quality.
Regarding the recent data price increase, Alam points out that data was subject to minimal or no VAT until recently. The imposition of VAT since last June has impacted operators, but a significant portion of mobile service expenditures directly contributes to the government’s coffers.
Despite opposition from mobile operators and experts, the BTRC believes that reducing the number of packages will simplify choices for customers. However, critics argue that consumers should have the freedom to choose from a variety of options based on their individual needs, and curtailing the number of packages will limit their choices.
The debate between the BTRC, mobile operators, and experts continues, with proponents of customer choice and satisfaction advocating for a diverse range of internet packages that cater to different user requirements. Ultimately, the decision lies with the regulatory authorities, who must strike a balance between offering a manageable number of packages and meeting the demands of their customers.