The telecom regulator's revenues rose 58.51 percent year-on-year to Tk 6,445.36 crore in the last fiscal year, a four-year high backed by earnings from the sales of 4G spectrum.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) raked in Tk 4,066 crore in 2016-17 and Tk 4,207.94 crore in 2015-16.
More than half of the revenue, or Tk 3,520.64 crore, came from the spectrum sales to mobile phone operators in February last year.
“Certainly, 4G spectrum auction paved the way for the higher revenue last fiscal year,” said Md Jahurul Haque, acting chairman of the BTRC.
In 2017-18, the telecom regulator earned Tk 2,501.50 crore in revenue shared by all telecom service providers, the second largest contributor to the earnings of the BTRC. It was Tk 2,648.90 crore in 2016-17.
“Revenue sharing is a fixed source of income for us though the amount is almost stagnant or has declined in some cases,” Haque told The Daily Star yesterday.
He said people were increasingly using communication applications to make voice calls, so the government's earnings from revenue sharing by mobile phone operators would fall in the coming years.
Mobile operators share 5.5 percent of their gross revenue with the BTRC. International gateway operators share 40 percent of what they earn from incoming international calls and interconnection exchanges share 67 percent of their revenues.
Earnings from incoming international calls dropped by a few hundred crore taka, said a senior official of the BTRC.
The revenue from incoming international calls is on the decline for a number of reasons and one of them is the formation of a cartel of international gateway operators a couple of years ago, the official said.
The third highest contributor to the BTRC's revenue was annual charge for licence, which amounted to Tk 99.67 crore last fiscal year. Some Tk 98.77 crore came from other sources.
It collected Tk 23.45 crore in late fees and Tk 20.20 crore in fines against illegal activities of the operators.
In the year, the BTRC spent about Tk 70 crore for administrative purposes from the collections and deposited the rest to the national coffer.
The telecom regulator also has a huge amount of unrealised income but it is finding hard to collect those as the debtors are either government-run entities or politically-backed companies, said an official of the BTRC's finance division.
Of them, international gateway operators owe about Tk 1,100 crore to the BTRC.
State-run mobile phone operator Teletalk has been providing 3G services since 2012 but has not obtained a licence as it has paid only Tk 60 crore out of Tk 1,627 crore needed to pay in licence and spectrum fees.
Another state-owned telecom company Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd owes the BTRC Tk 1,600 crore. Private land-phone operators, most of which have gone out of service in the last couple of years, owe about Tk 100 crore.