Thursday 23, March 2023

Another win for the mother language

Telecom operators to send their messages in Bangla

  • Service to launch tomorrow
  • Over 65 percent mobile users still use feature phones
  • Many have hard time reading English texts
  • Initiative only applicable for texts sent by operators to customers
  • Customers will have option for English SMS 

To commemorate the Language Movement, telecom operators are set to send all promotional and system-generated text messages and notifications in Bangla from tomorrow.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will launch the service to mark International Mother Language Day, the day when people fought for Bangla's recognition and sacrificed their lives on February 21, 1952.

This feature will be beneficial for a vast number of people, since over  65 percent of mobile users still use feature phones, not smartphones,  and many have a hard time reading English texts.

"We have been trying to introduce this remarkable service for a long time. Finally, we are doing it," Mustafa Jabbar, telecom minister, told The Daily Star. "The foundation of this country stands on this language, and I couldn't be happier that this dream is coming true."

According to operators, this initiative will only be applicable for text messages that will be sent by operators to customers.

This means that banks or other institutions can still send messages in either English or Bangla. However, if any foreign or local customer wants to get their SMS in English exclusively, there will be an option for them.

According to Brig Gen (retd) SM Farhad, secretary general of Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh, mobile operators were finalising the initiative.

According to industry insiders, most operators worldwide send out messages in the native language of the country they operate in.

Khairul Basher -- head of communications at Grameenphone, which has over 8.34 crore customers -- said, "Grameenphone believes that this step is a remarkable milestone, considering the significance of International Mother Language Day."

"Now, a wider base of customers who are dependent on Bangla will be able to get a better understanding of service offerings and other communications," he said.

"We have taken all measures to launch system-generated Bangla SMS, according to regulatory guidelines," said Shahed Alam, chief corporate and regulatory officer of Robi Axiata.

"We welcome this great initiative by BTRC. We hope this will help further promote the use of Bangla in the digital space. A dedicated team is working diligently at Robi to implement this project," he said.

Ankit Sureka, head of corporate communications and sustainability at Banglalink, said as per BTRC's instructions, Banglalink will provide all types of system-generated and promotional SMS in Bangla.

"We are introducing Bangla SMS to pay tribute to martyrs of the 1952 Language Movement and make it easier for customers to understand the messages," said Subrata Roy Maitra, vice chairperson of BTRC.

Over a year ago, aiming to promote the mother language, the telecom regulator directed all operators to reduce charges of each local text message that is written in Bangla to Tk 0.25.