The telecom regulator plans to issue 4G licences by a month, which will enable people to enjoy fastest data service.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has decided to make it an “open for all” licence where even a new entity can participate.
The commission will also arrange an auction to distribute spectrum in four months, BTRC Chairman Shahjahan Mahmood told The Daily Star yesterday.
“Prior to the auction, we will give go-ahead to technology neutrality for all existing spectrum,” said Mahmood. A senior executive of a top mobile operator said they are ready to launch 4G services as they have already upgraded their network.
“We can go for 4G services only after receiving technology neutrality. Now we want more spectrum as we want to improve the quality of services, and here spectrum price will be a matter of concern.”
Technology neutrality allows the operators to offer any service in any band, which will reduce the operators' cost of doing business and improve service quality.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister's ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy in a meeting directed BTRC and other government telecom officials to introduce 4G services in the country as soon as possible.
“All the existing four mobile phone operators can get 4G licences if they want and the fees will be over Tk 10 crore,” said Mahmood.
The fee for 3G licence was Tk 10 crore plus 5 percent VAT in September 2013. The regulator raised $21 million for each MHz of spectrum in the 3G spectrum auction.
The price of per MHz of spectrum may see a 20 percent rise this time, said a top official of the regulator.
Only the licence holders can take part in the spectrum auction, said Mahmood. “We think this can make the process for spectrum auction more competitive.”
BTRC has 15 Megahertz of unsold spectrum in the 2100 band and 10.6 Megahertz in the 1800 band and some spectrum in 900 band that came from Airtel after its merger with Robi.
Mobile operators use 2100 band for 3G services and 900 and 1800 bands for 2G services.
“We may charge the operators for technology neutrality for the already allocated spectrum. The rate of charge is yet to be fixed. The newly allocated spectrum will also enjoy such neutrality,” said Mahmood.
Market leader Grameenphone has welcomed the regulator's move for the tech neutrality and auction.
“We welcome this long pending decision, and are looking forward to its quick implementation, as it will help us in improving the network quality, particularly indoors, through efficient utilisation of spectrum,” said Mahmud Hossain, chief corporate affairs officer at Grameenphone.
There are around 6.63 crore mobile internet users in Bangladesh, of whom 3 crore use 3G services.