Govt finalises spectrum fees | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 30, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 30, 2011

Govt finalises spectrum fees


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The government has finalised a total of Tk 7,563 crore as spectrum charges for four mobile phone operators -- Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and Citycell, telecom ministry officials confirmed yesterday.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday approved the spectrum assignment fees for the four operators for the next 15 years. The operators' current licence tenure will expire by November 15 this year.
The tenure of the licences of other two operators -- state-owned Teletalk and Airtel (formerly Warid Telecom) -- will expire in 2020.
However, the largest mobile operator in the country, Grameenphone, will pay Tk 3,241 crore for its 14.6 Megahertz spectrum. Banglalink (with 12.4 Mhz) will pay Tk 1,971 crore, while Robi (with 12.8 Mhz) Tk 1,900 crore, and Citycell (with 10 Mhz) Tk 450 crore.
The operators will have to pay Tk 10 crore each as licence renewal fee.
The mobile companies will also share 5.5 percent of their revenue with the government, and will pay 1 percent of their revenue to Social Obligation Fund, meant for the development of the information and communication technology sector.
Last year Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) proposed a total of Tk 11,704 crore as spectrum charges for the four operators. Later, the telecom ministry revised the proposal and sent it to the finance ministry, which again modified it and finally the Prime Minister's Office gave a go-ahead.
The government has decided to charge the same fee at Tk 150 crore for per Mhz for all the three kinds of spectrum bands -- 800 Mhz, 900 Mhz and 1800 Mhz. But the payable money for per Mhz airwave is different for different operators.
Three GSM (global system for mobile communication) operators -- Grameenphone, Banglalink and Robi -- are using spectrum in 900 Mhz and 1800 Mhz bands and the lone CDMA (code division multiple access) operator, Citycell, is using the 800 Mhz band.
Per Mhz spectrum charge has been set on the basis of their market share or 'market contribution factor' (MCF) which was previously known as 'utilisation factor' in the draft licensing guideline of the BTRC.
According to the policy of the MCF prescribed by the telecom ministry, if an operator has more than 20 percent market share, it will have to pay additionally, while an operator with less than 20 percent share will pay at a reduced rate.
The MCF for Grameenphone now stands at 1.48, Banglalink 1.06, Robi 0.99 and Citycell 0.30.
These numbers have been multiplied by the per megahertz price of Tk 150 crore and the total amount of spectrum used by each operator.
The operators will have to pay 49 percent of their spectrum charges in November when the licences will be renewed, and the rest would be paid in three instalments in May 2012, November 2012 and finally in May 2013.
After Eid-ul-Fitr, the telecom ministry will sit with the representatives of the operators and will ask them to apply for licence renewal. Also, the ministry is working on the renewal policy documents, as a number of non-renewal issues were included in the BTRC's proposal, said ministry officials.
However, the operators seemed happy with the government's decision on the licence renewal charges, as those were much lower than what the BTRC proposed before.
Mehboob Chowdhury, chief executive officer of Citycell, said the government was cooperative towards the operators.
However, no other operators agreed to comment on the fees, saying they were yet to get the final confirmation from the government.

abdullah.mamun@thedailystar.net

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