Telecommunication experts fear that law enforcement agencies will not be able to track Rohingya miscreants who use Myanmar mobile networks
Despite the government's restriction on using mobile phone network services in and around the Rohingya camps, the Rohingyas are using such services without interruption from two Myanmar mobile phone service providers.
State-owned Myanma Posts and Telecommunication (MPT) and private run Telenor networks are accessible at the Rohingya camps in Teknaf and in Ukhiya where around one million Rohinya refugees are living.
Earlier, on September 02, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission asked all mobile phone service providers to curb 3G and 4G mobile services at the camps and surrounding areas to ensure national security and bring discipline in the camps.
Telecommunication experts fear that law enforcement agencies will not be able to track Rohingya miscreants who use Myanmar mobile networks.
Shahed Alam, the chief corporate and regulatory officer of Robi Axiata Limited said, "We are aware of the availability of Myanmar mobile networks in the camp areas."
Seeking anonymity, some Rohingya businessmen say they are bringing subscriber identification module (SIM) cards from Myanmar in various ways because the demand for the cards has increased suddenly.
The people coming in from Myanmar also bring in mobile SIM cards because of the high demand.
One such businessman from Kutupalong camp said, "I am in a position to sell only 20 SIM cards per day, whereas the demand is for 100 Myanma Posts and Telecommunication SIMs."
How Rohingyas recharge mobile accounts
Rohingyas recharge their mobile phone accounts in two ways. One way is by asking their relatives in Myanmar to recharge their accounts. The other is through a syndicate in the camps that helps Rohingyas recharge their accounts for an additional charge.
On September 17, police arrested three Rohingyas at the Teknaf land port for possession of 222 SIM cards from Myanmar. These three Rohingyas were supposed to be living in Bangladesh's Rohingya camps.
Strong Myanmar mobile network frequencies can be accessed at Jadimura, Hnila, Nayapara, Muchoni in Teknaf, and at the Balukhali, Palongkhali and Kutupalong camps in Ukhiya.
Salamat Khan, a Rohingya from the Kutupalong camp, told The Business Standard, "After the local network services were curbed, I started using a Myanmar SIM card to contact our relatives in the Middle East, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia."
When contacted, Md Kamal Hossain, Deputy Commissioner, Cox's Bazar said, "The availability of Myanmar mobile company networks in Bangladesh is a threat. We have informed the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) of this, and have asked them to block these networks in the refugee camps."
"We have also instructed law enforcement agencies to take stern action against people who are using and bringing in Myanmar's SIM cards illegally into the country," added the deputy commissioner.
Zakir Hossain Khan, spokesperson for BTRC said, "A technical team from the commission is checking if this network accessibility is a threat to our security."
They are also checking the frequency of the Myanmar mobile companies in Bangladesh. The regulatory commission will design their work plan after submitting a report on their findings, he added.