Citycell to stay for now | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 07, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 07, 2016

Citycell to stay for now

BTRC reinstates its suspended spectrum

Citycell will resume its services shortly after the telecom regulator reinstated its suspended spectrum yesterday evening, said a senior official of the operator.

The development comes after the Supreme Court last week asked the government to restore Citycell's spectrum and let it continue operations for now.

If the mobile operator fails to pay Tk 100 crore to the telecom regulator by November 19, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission can cancel its spectrum again, the Supreme Court said in its order.

The apex court also formed a three-member committee headed by Prof Jamilur Reza Choudhury to settle the issue between BTRC and Citycell.

Subsequently, BTRC held a special meeting yesterday and around 6pm a team went to Citycell's headquarters to restore the spectrum.

BTRC Chairman Shahjahan Mahmood told The Daily Star that they simply complied with the court's order.

A senior official of Citycell said they will try to start its service again as early as possible and it may take a few hours.

On October 20 BTRC suspended Citycell's spectrum for failure to pay dues and started a process to cancel the operator's licence.

The operator owes BTRC Tk 477.69 crore, and in September the apex court ordered Citycell to pay two-thirds of the amount by October 19.

Citycell paid Tk 130 crore to BTRC on that date along with Tk 14 crore as tax.

However, according to BTRC's calculation, Citycell had to pay Tk 318.42 crore, which is two-thirds of its dues.

Citycell's dues include the spectrum renewal fee of Tk 229 crore, annual licence fee of Tk 10 crore, annual spectrum fee of Tk 27.14 crore, VAT of Tk 39.92 crore and late fees of Tk 135 crore, according to a BTRC notice.

The beleaguered operator was given a fresh deadline of November 19 to pay back Tk 100 crore to BTRC last week.

Following the latest Supreme Court order, Citycell's lawyer AM Aminuddin told the apex court yesterday morning that BTRC was yet to reopen its spectrum although the Appellate Division directed the regulatory authority to reinstate the mobile operator's spectrum allocation immediately.

The Supreme Court then asked BTRC to explain why it is not reinstating the spectrum allocation of Citycell. BTRC told The Daily Star that they got the Supreme Court order yesterday afternoon and are complying with it right away.

Citycell began its operations in 1993, with its subscription reaching a peak of 19 lakh in 2011. For at least 10 years now, it has been a minor player in the market. In fiscal 2014-15, its total revenue stood at Tk 139.77 crore, while its investment was zero, according to the regulator.

Singapore's SingTel owns 44.54 percent shares in Citycell, Pacific Motors 37.95 percent and Far East Telecom 17.51 percent.

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