The government has decided to award more licences to increase the number of companies providing national telecommunication transmission networks (NTTN).
The aim is to expand fibre-optic cable connectivity, reduce thick tangles of overhead cables and ensure fair prices for end-users through competition.
The NTTN companies rent out capacities of fiber-optic cables to voice, internet and data service providers.
Currently five companies have the licence, which turns them into the sole authority to set up fiber-optic cables for business.
Getting the licence in 2009, private entities Fiber@Home and Summit Communications currently dominate the market.
The remaining three public entities -- Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited, Power Grid Company of Bangladesh and Bangladesh Railway -- got theirs in 2012 but are barely visible.
The government has already taken its final decision to award a licence to Bahon and this new one will come very shortly, Telecom Minister Mustafa Jabbar told The Daily Star yesterday.
Bahon is a joint venture of telecom companies where a majority is associated with the country’s leading ICT solutions service provider Broad Band Telecom Service, a sister concern of Ispahani Group.
The government is also mulling over another joint venture, Sangjog Network, a consortium of 23 internet service providers of the country.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission last week sent a recommendation to the telecom ministry for awarding Bahon a licence. It also sent Sangjog Network’s proposal for intelligence verification.
“We found a monopolistic situation in the fibre optic cable networking business and from my first day (in office) I have been trying to break the trend,” said Jabbar.
Three of the licensees are reluctant to focus on the business as they have little expertise on this field, he said.
“From the business sector to government projects everywhere we found a controlling situation in terms of pricing,” Jabbar added.
He said the licence was up for grabs for all and the industry had been demanding awarding more licences to set free the price control mechanism.
MA Hakim, president of Internet Service Providers Association Bangladesh, said the two active licensees were mostly concentrating on Dhaka, Chattogram and Sylhet and have little presence elsewhere.
This is why the demand has come for more licences, he said, adding that once Sangjog Network gets one, overhead cables in city streets would definitely disappear gradually, he added.