This article focuses on the compliance requirements of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) that must be complied with by the Telecommunication companies in Bangladesh followed by the consequences for breach of the compliance rules. However, the article begins with a brief discussion on BTRC and its functions and duties along with the list of Acts and regulations by which the telecommunication companies are bound by.

What is BTRC?

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is an independent commission founded under the Bangladesh Telecommunication Act, 2001. The BTRC is responsible for regulating all matters related to telecommunications (wire, cellular, satellite and cable) of Bangladesh. The BTRC started its journey from the 31 January 2002.

Functions and duties of BTRC

The general functions and duties of the commission are as follows:

  • To regulate the establishment, operation and maintenance of telecommunication services in Bangladesh
  • To protect the interests of the local consumers in respect of the charges imposed on them and their access to telecommunication services, and the quality and variety of such services
  • To encourage research and development activities in telecommunication and innovative activities and investment in providing telecommunication services
  • To protect the social and economic interests of the consumers, to respond to their needs and to control and abolish the existing and probable oppressive or discriminatory conduct or activities o the telecommunication service providers
  • To maintain and promote competition among the service providers in order to ensure high-quality telecommunication services
  • To ensure protection of the privacy of telecommunication
  • To collect, from within and outside Bangladesh, information on telecommunication and internet and to analyze and assess their impact on Bangladesh and to take necessary action or, as the case may be , to make necessary recommendations to the government
  • To frame a national scheme of numbering plan to be followed in telecommunication and to modify it whenever necessary.
  • Implementation of guideline about the internet domain name, as the case maybe, its modification and amendment, implementation, settlement of complain and dispute regarding the internet domain name

Objectives of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Act 2001

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Act 2001 has delineated its objectives as follows:

  • To encourage the orderly development of Telecommunication System that enhance  and  strengthens the social and economic welfare of Bangladesh ;
  • To ensure in keeping with the prevalent Social and economic realities of Bangladesh, access to reliable, reasonably price and modern Telecommunication services and internet. Services for the greatest number of people as far as practicable;
  • To ensure the efficiency of the national Telecommunication System and it capability to complete in both the national and international spheres;
  • To prevent and abolish discrimination in providing telecommunication services, to progressively effect reliance and competitive and market oriented system  and in keeping with these objectives to ensure effective control of the Commission;
  • To encourage the introduction of new services and to create a favorable atmosphere for the local and foreign investors who intend to invest in the Telecommunication Sector of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC)

Laws regulating BTRC

The legal statues governing the telecommunication industry in Bangladesh which will be applicable to all applicants and Telecommunication value added service Registration Certificate holder is given below:

  • The Bangladesh Telecommunication  Regulations Act 2001 (as amended)
  • Any act of parliament or Ordinance and any rules or regulations, made or to be, made by the government.
  • The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (ANS Operator’s Quality of Service) Regulations 2018
  • The rules/ regulations/ guidelines / directives / orders /instructions and decisions issued or to be issued under the act by the commission.

BTRC Compliance requirements for telecommunication companies under The Bangladesh Telecommunication  Regulations Act 2001

License

1.1 Procedure for getting license

No person shall without a license establish or operate a telecommunication system or undertake any construction work of such system or provide any telecommunication service in Bangladesh. In order to obtain a license for telecommunication, an application is required to submit before the commission and the Commission may, subject to the prior approval of the Government grant license.

Upon receiving the application, the Commission shall submit a report regarding the permit of license before the Government. The Government may grant the license or refuse the license based on discretionary factors such as:

  • Whether the applicant is eligible for getting the license for reasons like he is insane, he has been sentenced/imprisoned before, was declared bankrupt or discharged from liability of bankruptcy, declared by a bank as a defaulter loanee, the license has been cancelled by the Commission during the last 5 years.
  • Whether he has necessary financial capability, place to install the necessary establishments and expert manpower in order to regulate the functions.
  • Whether the issuance of license is compatible to the general objectives of the Commission
  • The effect of issuing the license , whether any condition or activities authorized through the license be prejudice to the existing license holder and whether the competitiveness might face jeopardy
  • The extent of its eligibility to the capacity of making welfare to the public

Term of license

The license shall contain any terms which may be compatible to the Acts, sections and provisions that govern BTRC. In addition, if situation demands additional terms maybe annexed therein.

Renewal of license

Upon expiry of the initial terms, the License issued shall be renewed for subsequent terms, each of 5 (five) years in duration, subject to the compliance with the system and payment of fees which are prescribed the provision or sections.

The issue of applicability of VAT and/or liability of the company to pay the VAT has no relation whatsoever with regard to the payment of license renewal fee and spectrum assignment fee. The company is bound to pay the net amount of the license renewal fee fixed by BTRC, without any kind of deduction (Orascom Telecom Bangladesh v Bangladesh (Spl Ori) 18 BLC (2013)-HCD-148)..

  Breach of license requirement

A person commits an offence if he contravenes the requirement for license and for such offence he shall be liable to be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 (Ten) years or to a fine not exceeding 300 (Three Hundred) core taka or both.

Authorization of tariff

Before commencing services, the telecommunication provider needs to submit a tariff proposal of maximum rate of charge payable for the service aforesaid to the government and until it is authorized by the government; the provider cannot commence to collect any charge against the services. If the proposed tariff is authorized, the Commission shall publish the proposed tariff by the form and system authorized by the government for the acknowledgement and inspection by the public. Within 60days of submission, the Commission will either authorize or refuse or substitute an alternative tariff instead of the proposed one or order the provider to submit an alternative tariff to the commission.

Provision relating to receipt and disposal of consumer complains

In order to be informed about the inconvenience and complain of the subscribers regarding the telecommunication service and concerned matters under this act, every telecommunication service providers shall arrange adequate numbers of complain centers. The locations and information about the complain centers needs to be published in its own website and at least two Bengali and English national dailies, published from Dhaka from time to time.

There needs to be such systems in place so that any consumer may by telephone message or written complaint, present his inconvenience or complain. All information relating to the complains received from consumers and disposal of such complains shall be recorded in a register. On receipt of an information or complain about an inconvenience or complain of a consumer, provider shall immediately take necessary action and shall follow the code of practice framed in this behalf by the Commission.

 However, where the service provider, after being informed of an inconvenience or complain of a consumer, fails to timely and properly resolve the inconvenience or the complaint, that consumer may in writing apply to the Commission for taking necessary action on the matter. Within 7 days of receipt of such application, the Commission may, after necessary inquiry, give proper directions to the service provider to take necessary steps for resolving the said inconvenience or complain.

Breach of compliance

If a licensee or the holder of a certificate or permit, violates any provision of The Bangladesh Telecommunication  Regulations Act 2001 or regulations or any condition of the license or permit in providing the service or has procured the license or permit or technical acceptance certificate by furnishing a false information, the Commission may direct the licensee or the holder of the permit or certificate to show cause within 30 days as to why an enforcement order shall not be issued or why the license or permit or certificate shall not be cancelled.

However, in response to the notice addressing the allegation, any reply or satisfactory explanation, is not submitted to the Commission or the corrective or remedial measures directed by the Commission are not taken within the time specified in such notice, the Commission may, after recording reasons, impose by an order on the offender an administrative fine which may be maximum 300 core taka and till such infringement be continued, administrative fine of maximum 1crore taka for each day. In addition in proper case the Commission may suspend or cancel the license, permit or certificate or impose additional conditions. 

Compliance requirements under The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (ANS Operator’s Quality of Service) Regulations 2018

Standards of Quality of Service

The respective provider needs to comply with the specified Quality of Service (QoS) benchmarks as mentioned in the tables of Schedule -1 and the service provider shall meet the QoS standard for Overall Network, City Corporation Area Level, District and Upazila Headquarters and rest of the licensed area in Bangladesh separately in respect of each parameter specified in tables, namely table-1, 2, 4 and 5 of schedule -1.

Reporting

 Every service provider shall submit monthly reports on its compliance to the Commission with each of the QoS standards specified in Table- 1,3,4 and 5 of schedule-1, within next 10days after the end of each month in the format specified by the commission.

Record keeping

 Every service provider shall preserve complete and accurate records required to find the value of each quality of service parameter specified of schedule-1 for at least one year after submission of the report of the Commission. 

Breach

If any service provider violates any provision of regulations under this act, the Commission may take action following the provisions of section 64 of the act of such violation.

The operators would get a chance to rectify their faults as BTRC would issue a 30-day notice to them to comply with the regulations before imposing the fine.
Section 64 of the act also allows BTRC to impose up to Tk 300 crore in fine and five years of imprisonment in the case of non-payment of the fine within BTRC-set timeframe.

Offence, Penalty, Investigation and Trial

Misuse of radio or telecommunication apparatus by an employee

It is an offence to misuse radio or telecommunication apparatus by an employee who intentionally transmit a message which to his knowledge is false, or misleading, or is likely to affect the efficiency of a telecommunication service or the security of life or property of a person, or  in course of his duty  uses any telecommunication apparatus or radio apparatus with intent to obtain any information relating to the sender or addressee, or the content of, a message sent by telecommunication or radio communication or create obstruction in any part of a telecommunication network. For such offence he shall be liable to be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 (five) years or to a fine not exceeding 5 (five) lac taka or to both.

Offence by company

If the person contravening a provision contained in or made under this Act is a company, every owner, director, manager, secretary or other officer or employee or representative of the company shall be deemed to have violated that provision, unless he proves that the violation took place beyond his knowledge or that he took all possible steps within his capacity to prevent the violation.

Upon receiving a complaint or information the Commission may authorize an Inspector or any other officer to investigate the offence specified in the Act or regulations. After completion of the investigation, the investigating officer shall submit to a Magistrate of the first class or to a Metropolitan Magistrate having jurisdiction. Afterwards the trial begins.

In addition, subject to the provisions of this Act, and the rules and regulations made thereafter, the Criminal Procedure Code shall apply to the investigation of an offence under this Act, trial, appeal and all incidental matters.  A case initiated in a court on the basis of a report of an Inspector under this Act shall be deemed to be a case so initiated on the basis of a police report.

Right to civil suits and other remedies for unlawful disclosure of message

If a person, on reasonable grounds, believes that a message sent or received by him has been or will be unlawfully disclosed, he may, for prohibiting such disclosure or use or for realizing compensation from the person liable for such disclosure or use, file a civil suit in the court of Sub Judge against the person; and in such a suit the court may pass on order of injunction or award compensation or other relief as it considers appropriate.

A civil suit, shall be filed within 3 (three) years from the date on which the cause of action for the suit arose. Filing of a civil suit by a person shall not affect the exercise of his other rights including his right to seek other remedies.

Dispute Resolution Process

Interconnection disputes between two operators or between an operator and an access provider on entering into new or maintaining an existing interconnection agreement related especially to the capacity of circuits, provision of services / facilities, quality of services, standards, tariff recording / monitoring, hindrance of traffic flow, anti-competitive and discriminatory practices, charging and pricing of interconnection services / facilities, non compliance of the terms and conditions of agreement, commercial and legal issues and provisions contrary to the Act , Regulations, Guidelines, order and directives, issued from time to time by the Commission, may be referred to the Commission by any of the parties.

In a situation where one party to interconnection negotiations considers that it is not getting fair deal from the other party to reach an agreement within the specified time of 3months or the other party fails to start interconnection negotiations within 15days, it may apply to the commission. The concerned parties, if aggrieved, may apply anytime during operation of the interconnection services.

The concerned parties may employ an informal mediation process if agreed mutually and appoint a mediator to facilitate a compromise of the disputes, before bringing it to the commission if it is unsuccessful.

The application for resolving the dispute shall contain the nature of dispute, the reasons on which it is based, points of disagreement, explanation of the view points, reasoning for the claim and all related supportive documents. On receipt of the complaint, if the Commission finds that the dispute does not fall within the jurisdiction of the regulator, the Commission shall not accept the complaint.

Once the dispute is accepted, the Commission shall notify both the parties of its initiative and start dispute resolution process and may take the assistance of technical, financial and legal experts at the cost of the disputing parties.

After considering all matters provided in the draft determination paper and the responses and claims of defense by the concerned parties, the Commission shall complete the investigation and assessment of the dispute and give its decisions or final determination, which will be final and binding upon the parties.  If you want to know more about please visit.

Legal Advice regarding BTRC compliance by CLP:

The Barristers, Advocates, and lawyers at CLP in Gulshan, Dhaka, Bangladesh are highly experienced at assisting clients through the entire process and  legal provisions relating to BTRC compliance in Bangladesh .

For any queries or legal assistance, please reach us at:E-mail: info@counselslaw.com
Phone:+8801700920980. +8801947470606. Address: House 39, Road 126 (3rd Floor) Islam Mansion, Gulshan 1, Dhaka.

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