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14 April 2024

ISPs object telecommunication operators’ Wi-Fi services

Sanjay Adhikari Rony

Published: 13:18, 4 March 2024

ISPs object telecommunication operators’ Wi-Fi services

Photo : Messenger

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have raised objections to the provision allowing mobile operators to offer all types of services under one license.

According to the new guidelines published in this regard, mobile operators will be able to provide Wi-Fi services to customers with SIM-based routers under this unified license. Businessmen in related sectors believe this puts domestic entrepreneurs at risk.

According to related sources, BTRC will hand over the unique license to the mobile operators on March 7. This license will be valid for 15 years. By obtaining this single license, operators need not acquire any separate licenses (such as those for 2G, 3G, or 4G). If a license is approved, it will cover all services.

Even for 5G or other future technology services, operators will not have to obtain separate licenses. The unified license guidelines mention the provision of FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) services for mobile operators. As a result, mobile operators can also provide this service.

Shahed Alam, Chief Corporate and Regulatory Officer of mobile phone operator Robi, said, “We will gradually launch this service (Fixed Wireless Broadband) once we get the new license. This FWA service utilises 5G or 4G LTE wireless technology.”

However, the ISPs have raised objections to this. The ISP Association said that if this change occurs, domestic entrepreneurs will be at risk. Although the government and regulatory bodies have assured them repeatedly, domestic entrepreneurs will be protected.

When asked whether this new service conflicts with the broadband services of ISPs, Emdadul Haque, president of ISPAB, an organisation of internet service providers in the country, told The Daily Messenger, “We have objections at this point. We have been repeatedly assured that in granting a unique license, protection will be provided to domestic entrepreneurs (ISP traders).”

“If mobile operators offer Wi-Fi services through SIM-based routers, how are domestic entrepreneurs protected? The organisation will hold a meeting with the Ministry of Telecommunication and BTRC soon,” he added, also saying, “The domestic entrepreneurs will be at risk if the issue is not resolved.”

When asked about this, Sheikh Riaz Ahmed, Commissioner of the Spectrum Management Department of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission-BTRC, told The Daily Messenger that there will be no conflict between Fixed Broadband Wi-Fi (ISP) and Fixed Wireless Broadband (Mobile Internet). These are two different types of services. Mobile phone operators could not provide this service earlier. Unique licenses (encompassing all services under one license) have this feature. Consequently, mobile operators can provide this service.

He also mentioned, “With the introduction of SIM-based routers, wireless Wi-Fi services will be available. Users can keep the router and use it wherever they are, at home or in the office. They will have a good experience.”

There are several other brands of SIM-based routers in the country, including TP-Link. The domestic company Walton has sought approval from BTRC to manufacture SIM-based routers. If approved, the company will commence production. In this regard, Sheikh Riaz Ahmed said, “We have observed SIM-based Wi-Fi routers manufactured by domestic companies. The company has complied with all the requirements. Hopefully, they won’t encounter any issues getting approval.”

When asked about this, the Additional Managing Director of Walton Digitech Industries Limited, Liakat Ali Bhuiyan, told The Daily Messenger, “We applied to BTRC as a manufacturer to produce SIM-based Wi-Fi routers. In that context, there was a factory visit by BTRC on February 28. We have complied with BTRC's conditions. We hope to receive approval to manufacture SIM-based Wi-Fi routers domestically.”