Bangladeshi operators spend big in latest 4G auction

Bangladeshi operators spend big in latest 4G auction

Bangladesh’s latest round of 4G spectrum auctions has generated $898.2 million as operators seek to increase their holdings amid surging demand for data services.

The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) put four 5MHz blocks in the band and 7.4MHz of 1800MHz spectrum up for sale. The concessions last 15 years, and winning bidders are obliged to pay 25% of the total cost before 23rd March with the remainder to be paid across the next five years.

Data from the regulator showed that market leader Grameenphone shelled out the most money, spending $391.8 million to obtain 10MHz of 2100MHz and 0.4MHz of 1800MHz airwaves. This puts its total holding at 47.4MHz, including 20MHz in the 2100MHz band.

Grameenphone’s acting CEO and CFO Jens Becker stated that the operator was now “well-positioned to further contribute to the digitalisation of Bangladesh and meet people’s growing need for high-speed internet in rural as well as urban areas”. The operator plans to use the spectrum to increase the reach of its coverage.

Meanwhile, second placed Robi Axiata spent $225.6 million to acquire 5MHz in the 2100MHz band and 2.6MHz in the 1800MHz band. Banglalink obtained the same amount of 2100MHz spectrum and 4.4MHz of 1800MHz spectrum for $281.4 million, bringing its 2100MHz holding level with Robi Axiata’s at 15MHz. All three operators now hold 20MHz of 1800MHz spectrum.

In March 2020 Bangladesh saw internet traffic spike by 15% as a result of the pandemic, which the following month saw operators petition the BTRC to release extra spectrum in the 2100MHz band to help them cope with demand.