Tarana Halim says the BTRC’s decision to ask customers of Citycell, which is facing closure, to switch to another operator within Aug 16 is ‘immature’.
The state minister for post and telecommunications made the observation on Sunday, two days before the cut-off time.
“How can we [ask them to] switch operator before taking an official decision? I think BTRC has shown a little immaturity here while taking the decision,” she told reporters at the Secretariat.
The minister said the customers of the mobile-phone operator will be given more time to arrange an alternative.
Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of telecom regulators BTRC, recently said it is closing Citycell, Bangladesh’s oldest mobile operator, ‘anytime’ over its failure to pay around Tk 4.78 billion in government dues.
In that case, BTRC will notify the Citycell customers to switch to other operators within Aug 16, Mahmood said.
Tarana on Sunday said, “We can’t ask the customers to switch over suddenly. BTRC issued the letter without consulting me. There should have been a discussion and only then I would have known about the legal issues.”
About the move to shut down Citycell, Tarana said, “We’ll hold a meeting to take a decision on the matter.”
Details will be discussed with the BTRC on the dues and if the operator violated other laws.
“Then we will give the subscribers one to two months to switch operator,” she added.
Tarana is scheduled to meet officials of the Posts and Telecommunications Division, BTRC and Citycell on Aug 17.
The minister said there was no scope that the BTRC letter would be effective following the rules.
“But it’s right that I would ask the BTRC to hold back had I known that it would issue a letter asking people to switch operator,” she said.
She added that the BTRC was right to inform the Citycell about its decision on its licence.
After the biometric re-registration of SIM cards, Citycell has 100,000 to 150,000 subscribers, according to the BTRC.