Third Telecom player looking unlikely

In response to a question by The Bhutanese in early June 2015, on the quality of service by Telecom companies, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgye talked about considering the viability of a third operator if the two telecom companies don’t improve their services by September  2015.

The government in September said they would await a report by BICMA on user feedback and performance indicators of telecom companies.

The survey carried out by the Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority on Quality of Service based on user feedbacks and Key Performance Indicator in total of nine Dzongkhags including Thimphu which started since December 2015 has been finally completed. The report has been submitted to the Ministry of Information and Communication this month.

MOIC minister Lyonpo D.N Dhungyel said, “The government can’t say about the establishment of third operator since we need to thoroughly study the report and need to identify if it’s really needed or not” “Even if it is to be established, it may take a long time,” he added.

The service however remains consistently plagued by connectivity issues such as call-drops, poor reception and slow internet connectivity. There are still quality of service especially with the comparatively the huge amount still being charged for using the services of the telecom companies.

However, The Managing Director of Tashi Cell Tashi Tshering said that the company is not aware of major complaints from its customers. “While it is difficult to claim that Tashi Cell is devoid of any complaint since we are operating in the service industry, there aren’t major complaints from our customers and accordingly Tashi Cell had submitted data pertaining to our network performance to the Ministry of Communications as well as to BICMA” he added.

He said, “Improvements of network performance is not a onetime activity where you do something and wait for some time for the problem to build up and then solve it.” He said it is a continuous routine process where the engineers monitor, analyze and rectify hundreds of network elements to maintain network performance as per the required specifications.

Tashi Cell is further working on increasing 3G-network capacity nationwide, extension of 4G-network to new service areas, up-gradation of transport network and various other value added services.

Meanwhile, The Bhutan Telecom General Marketing Manager, Penjore said that the Introduction of a third player would result in unhealthy price wars which in turn would lead to employee downsizing, “cherry picking” of investment proposals which would mean going for lucrative investments while sidelining investments which may have social benefits but may not payoff quickly. “In a nutshell, we have a concern that short and medium sighted decisions might dominate far sighted strategic decisions, if a second competitor enters the already saturating market” he added.

“We strongly believe that the size of the market is just sufficient for two players!” He pointed out.

He said BT believes in ‘Right is not right, right is what customers say’. “Therefore, continuously creating customer value or for that matter, gratifying our customers is at the apex of our goals and objectives, ” he added.

In order to serve the customer gratification, BT said that the management over the last few years, is trying to bring about a paradigm shift in the mentalities of the staff people by way of training, mentoring, dialogues and many more approaches.

“Being able to inculcate a customer first-culture in the minds of all our employees and that too, as quickly as possible is one of our challenges” Penjore pointed out adding that the other challenge is growing customer expectations. “Providing globally acceptable quality of services in a geographical terrain like ours is needless to mention, one of the challenges,” he added.

With the current infrastructure and manpower, he said that the BT has absolutely no doubt about expanding the healthy relationship with the customers.

Apart from several value added services like OTT, Cloud, etc, one of the important projects which is currently underway is the 4G/LTE project. BT has currently completed provisioning 4G services in Thimphu, Paro, Wangdue, Punakha, and Phuntsholing and they hope to cover  all Dzongkhags sometime by the middle of this year.

“BT firmly believes that, “technology innovation is not same as value innovation” i.e. we are carefully coming up with new technologies/projects that results in a significant value addition for our customers and not just for the sake of introducing a new technology,” he said.

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