Further Burden On Mobile Subscribers As SMS Gets Costlier

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Sending text messages from one network to another network will likely get costlier after BTRC’s decision to include a third party in the routing process. Mobile subscribers until now have been able to send text messages from one operator to another through bilateral agreement between the operators. That however will change.

Although the telecom operators have not received any official order yet, according to BTRC sources, a meeting of the regulatory body was held and it was decided that text messages will have to be routed through the interconnection exchange (ICX) operators, a move that is set to increase the costs by 2 percent.

Currently, the maximum charge on SMS from one operator to another is Tk 0.5, in addition to 15 percent VAT, 3 percent supplementary duty and 1 percent surcharge. Another Tk 0.01 will be now be added for the extra layer imposed by the BTRC.

Introducing the ICX layer in the SMS transmission will help the law enforcement agencies increase their surveillance, said a BTRC official.

About 1,500 crore text messages were generated in 2014-15, according to the BTRC’s annual report.

“We are earning very little from this segment and every day the government forces us to send crores of SMS on different issues,” said a senior official of an operator, seeking anonymity.

“We provide lots of SMS services for free — we will have to discontinue those services,” he added.

In 2012 there were only two ICX operators. Later the government awarded another 23 ICX licences on political consideration.

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