I sent the following letter to the daily star day before yesterday. We all need to raise our voice about this issue. I urge to all who are affected, please mail a letter to the newspapers in Bangladesh and voice your opinion about unplanned shortsighted actions against VoIP operators in Bangladesh. .

WE ARE DISCONNECTED

While I and all my siblings are living outside Bangladesh, my elderly parents live in Bangladesh. Daily phone calls from me and my siblings used to keep them going with their lonely life.

There are hundreds of thousands of non resident Bangladeshi and as a consequence, in a situation similar to us, there are thousands of lonely elderly parents who are emotionally dependent on overseas calls from their children.

Not only the emotional factor, in this globalized world, many family matters, business issues and social issues also depend heavily on instructions via overseas calls.

Over the last week I failed to call my parents. Neither of my siblings could make any call. I am hearing the same story from the Bangladeshi communities across the globe. Among them, someone has sick parents; someone’s wife was expecting a baby. There is a sudden feeling of helpless disconnection and distance. For a very pressing matter, I had to email a cousine of mine who in turn called my parents to give the message.

This sudden loss in connectivity with Bangladesh is being blamed by the non resident Bangladeshi community as the result of current law enforcement offensive on illegal VoIP business.

While we understand, VoIP was illegal, but it was serving millions of Bangladesh. Why suddenly demolish a service industry without ensuring a backup plan for unhindered flow of the service? Rather than totally
destroying the industry could not the government take steps in bringing the VoIP service under tax blanket?

We all understand that BTTB is losing revenue. We do not want that. But we also can raise the question that how much the nation will benefit with a revenue fat BTTB? What BTTB has given us since independence? It takes a nearly lifetime to get a land line connection. It is absolutely impossible to get a service from BTTB without bribes or phone calls from powerful people. Bribery by BTTB linemen has taken the form of extortions.

With VoIP the young entrepreneurs were giving an extensive overseas telecommunication service that was very cheap too. Definitely making a way to tax these services would have helped the national exchequer as well as the NRBs. But what is the logic of discarding an easy, cheap new technology of VoIP for an expensive and cumbersome technology currently used by BTTB. I am yet to understand the logic, why a VoIP operator will have to pay fees to BTTB if they do not use BTTB service at all i.e. if the call terminates in a private operator run mobile phone?

And at the same time NRBs will be happy to see some action on those who are involved in larger scale crimes, criminalization of the society, politics and the administration; not only on the young technologically savvy small scale entrepreneurs.

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