12:00 AM, December 07, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 07, 2016

BTRC asks operators to introduce voicemail

Operators term the service obsolete

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The telecom regulator has directed mobile phone operators to introduce voicemail services within the next three months.

However, the operators are not interested, calling it obsolete.

Voicemail allows customers to leave a voice message when the user is on another call, does not answer or when their phone is switched off. Subscribers can listen to the recorded message at a later time.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission sent a letter to all the operators, directing them to introduce the service and build capacity such that at least 10 percent of their customers have the service.

The operators said the service will increase their costs, but customers will not get any extra benefit from it.

“This is an obsolete technology and most of the countries are slashing this service from their network,” said a top executive of a mobile phone operator.

However, the telecom regulator, in its directive, said the service is used widely in the developing countries.

BTRC also shared a tariff structure, where it mentioned that it would cost Tk 30 a month to receive 100 voicemails, Tk 50 for 50 voicemails, and Tk 10 for 20 voicemails, according to the letter signed by Mohammad Zulfikar, BTRC's director of systems and services.

All mobile operators in the country had this service previously, but in 2014, they got rid of it as only a few hundred customers used the service.

The Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh will send its response within a short time, said a senior official of an operator, requesting not to be named. “To run this service, huge investments are required, but output will be almost zero,” he added. “That's why the regulator should not force us to go for this unnecessary investment.”

BTRC Chairman Shahjahan Mahmood expressed his interest several times in the past to introduce the voicemail service. “Like in other countries, our mobile phone users will be benefitted,” said Mahmood at a public hearing on the mobile phone operators' services at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh in Dhaka in the last week of November.

The BTRC chairman also organised consultation meetings with the operators, where they placed their points against the voicemail service, officials said.

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