Facebook Is Open But Messaging Apps Still Remain Blocked

Facebook Is Open But Messaging Apps Still Remain Blocked
Imdadul Haque

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So finally Facebook is unblocked but at the same time social media messaging and calling applications remain blocked, which faced the ill fate of Facebook at the exact same time and for the exact same reason. These applications include WhatsApp, Viber, Line, Tango and Hangouts. These services could be blocked until the Municipal Election are held, a source informed. Those in authority said that this delay in unblocking the apps is both because of security and businesses related issues.

After widespread criticism and demand of candidates of the Municipal Election, Facebook was made open today, Thursday, after 3 weeks. These apps will be opened later after a directive is issued from the Home Ministry. However, that could be after the Municipal Election.

Earlier today, at the Secretariat, Post and Telecommunication State Minister Tarana Halim declared the decision of making Facebook open for everyone in the country. After the directive from the State Minister, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Chairman Eng. Shahjahan Masud sat in a discussion with the authorities of the related International Internet Gateway (IIG) and the operators.

These apps will be opened later after a directive is issued from the Home Ministry. However, that could be after the Municipal Election

Later, BTRC sent an email to the internet gateway operators, mobile phone operators and other operators and asked them to open Facebook. After the directive, the process of unblocking Facebook began.

On this issue, the country’s IT specialist and BDNOG Board of Trust’s Chairman Sumon Ahmed Sabir said “We have received the direction from BTRC. Work is already in process to unblock Facebook. Everyone will be able to access Facebook by the evening.”

On the other hand, BTRC Secretary Md. Sarwar Alam informed that he has held meetings at the Secretariat since this morning with BTRC Chairman and other related individuals.

According to sources, since the ban on Facebook, Viber, Messenger, WhatsApp, Line, Tango and Hangout has been made, the sale of data of mobile operators, such as Facebook Package (Facebook Light) and other internet packages (Particularly mini-packs) has significantly decreased. This data from the mobile operators was also an issue that was discussed. However, since the use of SMS, local voice calls and international incoming voice calls have increased, it is a factor that is helping the telcos to overcome the hit they took with data consumption.

Sources also mentioned that because Facebook and other applications have been blocked, the use of internet or data on the mobile phones has reduced by 30%

Certain responsible officials of these telcos, who wished to remain anonymous, have informed that it is very easy to see that because of banning these applications the rate of local and international calls have increased. However, they all declined to provide any constructive data.

Sources also mentioned that because Facebook and other applications have been blocked, the use of internet or data on the mobile phones has reduced by 30%. Hisan, from the internet providers’ association said that the use of mobile internet data has decreased by over 50%, but in retrospect, the number of SMSs and calls made from mobile phones has increased by about 29%.

It has been found out that during the inauguration of the BPO summit the issue of Facebook was highlighted. It was said that the ban on social media directly contradicts the government’s practice of democracy and its IT development. Having considered the issue, at the end of the launching of the summit, Prime Minister’s IT Advisor, Sajeeb Wazed Joy asked to lift the ban on Facebook.