Regulator to allow GP to join spectrum auction

The telecom regulator has finalised its recommendations to amend the spectrum auction guideline, which allows market-leader Grameenphone to participate in the bidding making it more competitive.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission sent the suggestions to the government for final approval, an official said.

The current auction guidelines bar any operator with more than 20 MHz in the 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz GSM bands from bidding. 

Currently, Grameenphone is the only operator to fall in that category, with its 32 MHz capacity in those bands; the proposed Robi-Airtel joint entity after merger will also exceed the limit.

The auction for 15MHz of 3G spectrum in the 2,100 band and 10.6MHz of 2G spectrum in the 1,800 band was originally scheduled for April 30 last year, but it was suspended for the unwillingness of the telecom operators. 

The government is now trying to accelerate the process, which would bring an estimated Tk 5,000 crore to the state coffers.

BTRC intends to sell the full available mobile spectrums in the two bands from its upcoming auction this fiscal year.

“We are trying to sell the free spectrum in the two bands in entirety,” Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of BTRC, said on Sunday.

Under the current situation, only Banglalink would be interested in bidding for more spectrum, as Robi will have a capacity of 39.8MHz after the proposed merger and is unlikely to have the urgency to acquire more, said another official of BTRC.

Robi and Airtel have 19.8 MHz and 20 MHz capacity respectively, while Banglalink holds 20 MHz spectrum in three different bands.

State-owned Teletalk has 25.2 MHz of spectrum and Citycell just 6.5 MHz spectrum.

The regulator will offer two slots of 5.3 MHz each in the 1,800 band, and three slots of 5 MHz in the 2100 band, with a floor price of $25 million for each MHz.


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