Telcos confirm spectrum auction participation
The country's four mobile operators, including state-owned Teletalk, are participating in a spectrum auction scheduled to be held on March 31, having already submitted earnest money with Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
The participation of all the operators has ended speculations that one or two might not participate in the auction, said industry people.
However, it is still uncertain whether the companies will avail spectrum and by how much.
The regulator will award 60 MHz spectrum in six blocks from 2.3 GHz (2300-2400 MHz) bands and 120 MHz spectrum in 12 blocks from 2.6 GHz (2500-2690 MHz) bands through the open auction.
The base price per MHz is $6 million for both bands. An operator has to pay Tk 10 crore as earnest money and Tk 15 lakh as application processing fees.
"Grameenphone welcomes spectrum auction and believes this is an important milestone for further enhancing 4G experience and 5G readiness," said its chief corporate affairs officer (acting), Hossain Sadat.
"We have deposited the earnest money, and we look forward to a transparent auction with fair outcomes," he said.
Shahed Alam, chief corporate and regulatory officer of Robi Axiata, said they would participate in the auction and if the price was reasonable, they would purchase spectrum they required.
"But if it goes too high, we won't be able to buy the necessary spectrum," he said.
"We believe unsold spectrum has no value and the more spectrum we are able to take, the better the service will be ensured for customers. We are requesting the regulator to consider these issues," he added.
Subrata Roy Maitra, vice chairman of the BTRC, said, "We have set a base price and as it was an open auction, we are bound to award the spectrum to the highest bidders."
"There are no issues of lowering or increasing the price," he added.
The BTRC said operators shall launch 5G services within six months from the date of the spectrum auction.
However, it will be technology neutral spectrum, meaning that the operators will be able to use it for 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G.
The rollout of 5G has been a part of the current government's election manifesto in 2018. In December last year, it introduced the service through state-run Teletalk in six areas of the country.
The private operators said the participation of Teletalk, which has already got 60MHz from the 3.5GHz band, in the auction would increase the price, ultimately leaving them incapable of acquiring necessary spectrum.