The regulator has invited applications for fourth generation (4G) mobile telecommunications licence taking an important step in rolling out the fastest data service in Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission took the decision to call applications from mobile phone operators at a special meeting yesterday. It fixed February 13 as the spectrum auction date.
The following day the authority would notify those who got the licence and whose spectrum bids got selected.
“Awarding of the licence for the fastest data service will be organised on February 14,” said Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of the
“We have started the process for the licencing and the spectrum auction simultaneously and we are expecting a good result,” he said after the meeting.
Interested operators will have to submit application by January 14 both for spectrum and licence.
The telecom regulator will arrange a mock auction on February 12 before moving to the final public sale.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the amended guideline of the 4G licence and service last week.
All the private mobile phone operators have already taken preparations to launch 4G service. They are now working on converting SIM cards and developing ecosystem.
All three private operators declined to make any comment yesterday.
However, they sent a joint letter to the regulator on the day, requesting it to resolve some long-pending issues.
The letter signed by Erik Aas, managing director of Banglalink, Michael Foley, CEO of Grameenphone, and Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, managing director of Robi, was also sent to the telecom division, requesting the regulator to arrange a meeting to settle the issues.
But the BTRC chief said the government has already addressed all the issues the operators have raised on 4G licence and spectrum.
“We are waiting for the mobile operators' enthusiastic response in the auction,” he said. “We always want to sit with the telecom operators as they are our main forces to achieve the government's Digital Bangladesh Vision.”
Operators will have to pay Tk 5 lakh as application processing fee and Tk 10 crore as licence fee. They also will have to pay Tk 5 crore as annual fee for the 15-year licencing tenure, according to the final guideline.
According to the guideline, operators will have to deploy 4G network across the country in 36 months.
The telecom regulator will put up for spectrum auction 25 megahertz from 2100 band with floor price of $27 million per MHz.
For 1800 and 900 bands, the floor price has been fixed at $30 million. Some 18 MHz spectrum in 1800 band and 3.4 MHz spectrum in 900 band will be up for sale.
The telecom regulator had earlier included the technological neutrality issue in the spectrum guideline. Now it has been separated and sent to the finance ministry for fresh approval about revised conversion fees.
Technological neutrality helps mobile operators offer any service in any band. The conversion fee was earlier fixed at $7.5 million per MHz and now has been revised down to $4 million.
In the letter, the operators also raised fresh concern about spectrum fees and technological neutrality charges.
The operators also expressed worries about the new 4G definition, which says the speed has to be 20 Mbps under the fastest technology. The letter said the combined spectrum that would be made available during the auction will not be sufficient to provide the speed.
They also reiterated their concern on unresolved value added tax and fibre optic network issues.
The BTRC last arranged the auction for 3G spectrum in September 2013 and the operators immediately rolled out the service.