Bhutan Telecom has been in the news for charging sky high roaming rates for Indian in two public cases including the former DHI Chairman who dragged BT to the Office of Consumer Protection.
Bhutan Telecom (BT) now said that the charges for its international roaming facility in India will keep on changing as it directly depends on total cost charged by its three main partner operators in India. According to BT, it only charges some additional surge cost, which is 10 percent of the total cost.
BT stated that there are constant negotiations with the operators to bring down the prices. India had many network operators, but due to high competition, and especially with JIO coming in the market, the smaller operators started merging together. There are only four major players in the Indian market today – Airtel, Vodafone, JIO and BSNL.
CEO of BT Karma Jurme said that one of the major flaws of BT is the failure to provide proper information to its customers about the charges on the roaming facility. He added, “If we could provide proper information on how much a customer has to pay for the roaming service they use, before they go out and use it, I feel that such problems would not occur and could have avoided bill shocks.”
He said that the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) has also issued certain recommendations and suggestion to BT. “One of the recommendations of OCP was that we should provide our customers with complete information about the services we provide, and now we are trying to incorporate all of this,” he added.
BT also clarified that it is a responsible organization with a mandate to provide services to its customers. “BT doesn’t intend to rob its customer in the pretext of providing service. In addition, there is another operator who provides similar service and if we compare the two operators in Bhutan, the charges would be same,” the CEO said.
Regarding the customer complaints on high charges on local data usage, BT said that the customers are comparing the data usage charges here to the charges in India.
“I agree that compared to India, our data charges are high but if we compare it with other countries, it is not that high. While comparing our data charges with that of India, we have to also look at the number of people who use the service, given the high population of India, it is advisable for them to charge low, but in Bhutan since our population is less, the charges that we apply is reasonable,” said the CEO.
He also said that the data charges depend on the total volume of usage. If people use less then they will be charged less, and if they use more then the charges will be obviously more, he said.
The CEO of BT said, “If we compare the prices, compared to past, it has come down. In addition our charges are approved by the regulatory authority, Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) and we cannot charge prices higher than what is approved by BICMA.”