Telecoms Minister Mustafa Jabbar says there aren't enough towers for mobile phones to meet demand and a preponderance of jammers is interrupting service and leading to dropped calls even when phones are able to find their provider’s network.
“There are some causes for dropped calls,” the minister said.
“First, we don’t have the proper number of towers and these towers don’t have fibre connections. In order to launch the 5G service, we must have fibre connections,” Jabbar said.
“Another issue is jammers. As many areas have jammers installed, calls are dropped even when phones are connected to a network. We have conducted drives in many places. We are always focused on improving the quality of service.”
Asked to comment further on the jammer situation, Jabbar said: “They are not placed with our permission. They are smuggled in and enter the country illegally. We have a long history of finding and seizing these jammers. We recover them from all over the country.”
The minister spoke to the media following a meeting with district administrators at the deputy commissioners’ conference in Dhaka on Wednesday.
“We are trying to bring dropped calls and other issues with our telecom operators to a tolerable level,” he said. “We have recently taken an initiative on dropped calls. When a user’s call is dropped for the first time, they will be refunded three times the amount deducted for the call.”
“If you think back even 15 years ago, the demand was limited,” Jabbar said. “People were satisfied with being able to make calls from their phones. Now everyone uses the internet. They make video calls. The demand has risen. That is why we are focusing on developing the infrastructure. Our goal is to improve our infrastructure in line with technology.”
During the DC conference, officials asked the minister what could be done to fix problems such as the entirety of Sylhet’s network infrastructure going underwater during the recent floods in the region.
The minister acknowledged that Bangladesh has been unable to launch 5G service nationwide due to the foreign exchange crisis.
“We could have completely shifted to 5G,” he said. “We even took a proposal to the ECNEC. But we need large amounts of foreign currency for the project. At the time we thought we could launch it fully within a few days. Once the current situation improves, we will be able to shift to 5G. 5G is essential for industries and other development. If someone comes to our country, builds a robotics factory and asks for 5G services, we must be able to provide it for them.”
The minister also spoke on the debate about requiring the use of the Bijoy software on mobile phones.
"The BTRC used the word ‘mandatory’, which is misleading. The manufacturer or importer will provide built-in software for writing in Bangla. They spoke of using Bijoy. The user has the freedom not to use it.”