Robi, Airtel set to launch video calling
Muhammad Zahidul Islam

‘Airtel is very pleased to partner with another 3G operator for video calling services, which is also providing lifestyle enhancing services for the customers of Bangladesh’

Though the country’s five mobile phone operators are enjoying third generation (3G) mobile services without offering video calling service to their customers, Robi and Airtel have undertaken an initiative to exchange video calling service between the two operators.

A 3G-connected subscriber of an operator cannot at present make a video call to the subscriber of other operators though both the users have all the facilities with having their smart handsets due to lack of inter-connectivity options.

However, two mobile phone operators have decided to undertake the initiative for the first time to exchange video calling between them only.

These two operators want to offer the new service to their customers from December 16, marking the victory day of Bangladesh, subject to approval by the regulator. The video call rate is fixed at Tk1 per minute.

As of September 2014, Airtel captured 6.29 lakh 3G subscribers while its counterpart could grab 15 lakh 3G users.

Airtel has already sent a letter to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) with a request for allowing it to offer the new service.

The letter signed by Fazle Khoda, chief corporate affair officer of Airtel, said: “After detail scrutiny, we are ready to exchange inter-operator video call with Robi with the existing voice interconnection termination rate for both voice and video calling.

For voice services, inter connection (call from one operator to another operator) charges are fixed at Tk0.18 per minute.

Earlier,Robi undertook an initiative for offering off-net video calls with four other operators but it received very little response from the market.

AKM Morshed, chief technology officer of Robi said, “Though video calls market demand is still very nominal, we have taken initiative to reach a common platform with other 3G operators, but some of them are not yet interested about it.”

Morshed also observed that 3G connected subscriberswere very limited up to one lakh, and out of them, demand for video calls is also very nominal.

A senior executive of Banglalink mentioned that they also wanted interconnection for video calls but things were not working out.

He, however, informed that the regulator established Interconnection Exchange (ICX) for solving this problem few years ago but it was only for voice calls, now the debateon video calls is going on.

“Airtel is very pleased to partner with another 3G operator for video calling services, which is also providing lifestyle enhancing services for the customers of Bangladesh,” an Airtel spokesperson told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

Four private mobile phone operators awarded 3G licenses September 2013 but those operators had launched their commercial offer at end of that year. State-owned mobile operator Teletalk has been offering ‘test run commercial services’ since October 2012. 

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