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No more murky telecom ads in Bangladesh

Mobile operators in Bangladesh will now have to give all the details on services when advertising in any newspaper, magazine, leaflet or their websites, according to new directives recently released for the sector.

The phrase ― “terms or conditions apply” ― cannot be used anymore and if all relevant information cannot be given in the original advertisement itself in the case of newspapers, the rest has to be printed on inner pages, the country’s telecom regulator has said.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has published the notification with nine interim directives on SMS-based services, tariff and marketing promotion. The new directive will take effect from May 1.

Operators will also have to execute an “end call” notification, meaning after every call, the operator will have to inform its subscribers about the call minutes and the amount charged.

Operators will also have to inform their pre-paid customers about their credit balance after every call. This directive needs to be executed by Sept. 30.

Operators are being consulted on the matters, but the regulator has published the directives in the mean time, said TIM Nurul Kabir, secretary general of Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh, on Sunday.

“We are reviewing the directives now and then we will express our reaction,” he said. “We appreciate the consultation process and these directives are a result of that process. The regulator should continue this process in formulating other directives as well.”

The directive has been released on the BTRC website, signed by Lt. Col. Md. Raqueebul Hasan, the director of the systems and services division.

The regulator has issued the directives in the interest of the subscribers, it said in the notification.

According to the published directive, the operators will also have to notify the users two times about how long a given offer is valid. Users will have the option to unsubscribe from the service.

It also said the operators are prohibited from advertising any service, like copying a welcome tune, prior to connecting a call.

When a SIM card is inactive for a while, subscribers have to purchase a new SIM to reconnect, which is a waste of money. The regulator said the subscriber should be able to reuse the connection within a year for 50 taka ($0.62).

By Abdullah Mamun

(The Daily Star)