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Are phone companies covering up slow 3G speed with colourful offers?

  • Published at 04:47 pm December 23rd, 2017
  • Last updated at 02:44 pm December 31st, 2017
Are phone companies covering up slow 3G speed with colourful offers?
When 3G internet was introduced, mobile phone companies were forthcoming about the bandwidth or speed. Consumers knew what internet speed they were paying for. But it has not been the case for a very long time. Currently, mobile phone companies only sell internet data in volumes. When a consumer buys a package, they are only getting the volume, and no inkling of how fast or slow their internet is going to be. Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) supervises 3G and 2G internet, but it has no clear definition of what constitutes them. Thus, there is no evidence or statistics which can tell us what our 3G internet is like or how many people are actually using 3G internet. Broadband internet speed was fixed in the National Broadband Plan 2009, which after two amendments, was set at 5Mbps minimum. But 3G has not had anything even barely hinting at its speed. But, according to Posts and Telecommunications State Minister Tarana Halim, 4G internet will have a minimum speed of 20Mbps. According to a BTRC official, mobile phone companies provided 3G internet only for a few days. They claimed it was difficult to discern the 3G and 2G packages which contributed to a lack of overall performance. Hence, the bulk data packages riding on spam messages to our phones. BTRC had countered the malpractice, saying mobile phone companies will have to compensate users if they mention the package speed. If someone purchases a 3G package and moves to an area with only 2G coverage, they are supposed to be charged for 2G internet. But if they are charged for 3G internet, then the company has to refund 40% of the used data The BTRC official noted that mobile phone companies are essentially scamming consumers by not revealing the internet speed. In 2015, BTRC ordered an investigation into the allegations of 2G internet being sold for 3G prices. The allegations read that since 3G and 2G are completely different technologies and have differing bandwidth, their pricing should also be different. Rather, Bangladeshi telecoms were charging the same rate. After the investigation report was submitted, BTRC issued a number of directives last September. As per the directives, it is required of telecom companies to inform users of the availability of 3G internet in their area. More importantly, the speed specifically mentioned in the package has to be provided without any reservations. But, instead of complying with the user-friendly directives, phone companies sent letters after letters to the BTRC, saying it was far too complicated to follow the instructions. And that is how the line between 2G and 3G internet was not only blurred, but wiped clean. In their defence, mobile phone operators maintain their claim that it is way too difficult to ascertain how much data is lost when a 3G user moves to a 2G-only area. But nobody has yet to explain why internet speed is never mentioned in any of the packages. This article was first published on Bangla Tribune
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