Guidelines for small telecom operators set
The telecom regulator has finally formulated a draft of ‘Telecom VAS Operator Licensing Guidelines’ to regulate small and medium telecom businesses providing different telecom Value Added Service (VAS) to the subscribers.
A total of 30 companies have been providing different telecom VAS including ringtones, mytunes, wallpapers and songs for over five years without any regulatory guideline.
According to the draft guideline posted in Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) website, telecom VAS providers will be allotted a short code from the telecom regulator which can be accessible from all the subscribers of different operators. Currently, the VAS providers have to make individual arrangements with the operators for taking a short code through witch the subscribers could avail the VAS.
To facilitate this matter, the guidelines said that the VAS licensee shall have the access and interconnection of its approved short-codes with existing single point of Interconnection Exchange (ICX) and National Internet Exchange (NIX).
“This will help to avoid the hazard of individual connectivity with all operators, other related service providers and overseas content providers which may have connectivity through NIX over IP”, said the draft guideline.
The draft guideline also put a bar on foreign companies to have VAS license. It said –“Foreign entities (citizens, companies, firms, body, institution, organization, subsidiary or holding company) shall not be eligible to become shareholder (Owner/Director/ Investor/Partner/ Heir) of the License to be issued under these guidelines.
The guideline said that the licensing procedure for Telecom VAS Operator will be an Open Licensing Method. The license will be given for a five-year period.
Talking with The Independent, a high official of the BTRC said that in Bangladesh, mobile phones are mainly used for voice communication purposes, though the technology and the existing infrastructure can be utilized beyond voice services for different non-voice value added and data related services.
Though in recent years few initiatives have been taken for providing VAS, the achievement is far from its potential. Still the major focus has been on traditional entertainment contents such as ring tone, music and wall paper and these are mainly consumed by a very limited portion of urban middle class mobile phone users, said the official.
The BTRC official said that this draft guideline is formed to take the telecom VAS service to the next level. “It will provide impetus to local Telecommunication/ICT entrepreneurs to venture for diverse VAS including customized software application”, said the official.
On Thursday, the telecom regulator gave three categories of gateway licenses to 78 companies aiming to ease the country's telecommunication and Internet services. Chairman of the regulatory body -- Bangladesh Telecommuni-cations Regulatory Commission (BTRC) -- Major General (retd) Zia Ahmed handed over the licenses to the representatives of the companies at the commission's office.
"The companies who got the gateway licenses have some complexities with the operators (mobile phone and others) over call sharing. So, we have to settle the issues," Ahmed said.