The government yesterday approved four applications for tower operations licences as part of its move to separate the network business from telecom services with the view to rationalising the number of towers in the country.
The four were chosen based on the strength of their applications from the eight entries received by the Bangladesh Telecommuni-cation Regulatory Commi-ssion for the licences.
The licence holders -- edotco Bangladesh, TASC Summit Towers, Kirtonkhola Tower and AB Hightech Consortium -- will be able to build, maintain and rent out the towers in the country to mobile operators, internet service providers and WiMAX operators.
At present, mobile operators own more than 30,000 of the towers across the country.
The telecom regulator will now issue an award notification in the next couple of days and the companies will get 30 days to submit their licence fee of Tk 25 crore and band performance guarantee of Tk 20 crore.
Upon receiving the licences, the companies will get down to buying the existing towers from the mobile operators.
“Now, the smaller operators will have a fair shot at expanding their network across the country without the need to establish their own towers,” said said Md Jahurul Haque, acting chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.
The number of towers will come down, freeing up land occupied by the structures.
The tenure of the licence would initially be 15 years with the option extend by five years. The annual fee has been set at Tk 5 crore.
The licence holders will have to share 5.5 percent of their revenue with the government and another 1 percent with the social obligation fund from the second year.
The winners are all joint ventures with foreign parties, which can have at most 70 percent stakes in the company.
edotco, a concern of Malaysian Axiata Group, the parent company of the country's second largest operator Robi, took on Greencon Tower as its local partner.
Greencon Tower will have 30 percent stakes in edotco Bangladesh and edotco Group the rest.
TASC Summit Towers is a joint venture of local Summit Communications, UK-based TASC Tower and Indian Global Holding Corporation Private Limited.
Summit will have 50 percent shares of the company; the remaining 50 percent will be shared by the two foreign entities, said an official attached with the licensing procedure.
Kirtonkhola Tower, which was previously known as ISON Tower, is a joint venture between local Confidence Tower and Singapore's ECP Tower. Confidence Tower has 30 percent stakes in Kirtonkhola Tower and ECP Tower 70 percent.
AB Hightech Consortium has five local partners and two foreign partners. The local partners -- ADN Telecom, AB Hightech International, ZN Enterprise, Synergy Logistic and Orange Digital -- have 80 percent stakes and the foreign partners -- China Communications Services and Changshu Fengfan Power Equipment -- 20 percent.