Two companies -- New Generation Graphics Ltd and Bangladesh Internet Exchange Ltd -- who provide broadband services under the brand of Ollo have recently got a regulatory nod to form a new company.
The two plan to use their combined 44 MHz spectrum, which will be the highest spectrum of a single operator, to provide the latest broadband services with the LTE (long term evolution) technology.
New Generation Graphics has 10 megahertz spectrum in 800 MHz band and 7 MHz in 3,500 MHz band, while Bangladesh Internet Exchange has 20 MHz spectrum in 2,400 MHz band and 7 MHz in 3,500 MHz band.
The merger of small companies is important for the market, said Yulia Aksyutina, managing director of Bangladesh Internet Exchange.
“Almost all current ISP [internet service provider] operators use different collaboration schemes on the market to be able to provide services at the most competitive prices. It is a standard practice on all developing markets.”
“We will definitely support all our existing clients as well as provide clear growth path for them to switch to our newly developed LTE network which will be launched soon.”
ISP licences are usually “technologically neutral”, which means the operators can choose from LTE and WiMax technologies, she said.
So New Generation Graphics and Bangladesh Internet Exchange can now use the LTE technology in their operations, she said.
The country's largest mobile operator Grameenphone has 32.5 MHz spectrum in three bands: 22.5 MHz spectrum in 900 MHz band and 1,800 MHz band, and 10 MHz in 2,100 MHz band, said Mahmud Hossain, chief corporate affairs officer of the operator.
The spectrum was offered to Bangladesh Internet Exchange through an auction in 2008 but the operator did not take it then. In 2013, the company received a wireless broadband licence and took the allocation of 20 MHz spectrum from the regulator at Tk 246 crore, which was equivalent to the 2008 auction price.
The other 7 MHz spectrum in 3,500 MHz band of Bangladesh Internet Exchange came with its ISP licence for free long before the auction, according to officials of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.
Merger of the two companies or their spectrum is legal but the companies are not allowed to sell their allocated airwave, said a legal consultant of BTRC.
The regulator will examine the present market condition before allowing Ollo to provide LTE services, so that a level-playing field is ensured, said BTRC Chairman Sunil Kanti Bose. He had earlier said Ollo will not be allowed to offer voice services. However, mobile operators have criticised the regulator's decision to provide the 20 MHz spectrum to Bangladesh Internet Exchange without calling a fresh auction.
They said in a statement that they were interested to take more spectrum to offer LTE services in future.
WiMax operators Banglalion and Qubee also have LTE licences. An operator can provide faster internet services than 3G through the LTE technology. Ollo has currently 25,000 WiMax customers and the company recently became a member of GSMA, an association of global system of mobile communication, according to its website.
Ollo also has plans to change its brand name next year, said an official of the operator.