The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has confirmed that it will hold the country’s highly anticipated 4G spectrum auction by December.
While an exact date has not been finalised, the regulator has set reserve prices at $30 million per megahertz in the 900MHz and 1.8GHz bands, and $27 million per megahertz in the 2.1GHz band. The auction was previously scheduled for June, and the guidelines for bidding have been given the green light by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
BTRC is making available 15MHz of spectrum in the 2.1GHz band, 10.6MHz in the 1.8GHz band, and an unspecified amount in the 900MHz which previously belonged to Airtel. The regulator came to hold this unsold spectrum following Airtel’s merger with Robi. Spectrum in the 2.1GHz is used for 3G services, while the other two bands are used for 2G services. All of Bangladesh’s spectrum is technology-neutral.
Bangladesh’s four current operators will all be able to participate, along with a new entrant. The terms of the auction specify that winning bidders must deploy services to district headquarters within 18 months of being allocated their licence. They will have three years to extend these services nationwide.
The regulator has lowered the spectrum conversion fee for technology neutrality in the 900MHz and 1.8GHz bands. Previously set at $10 million per megahertz, it will now cost $7.5 million, with the revenue sharing percentage for 4G services also reduced to 5.5%, down from 15%. The regulator has also slashed various fees by a third, including annual licensing and licence acquisition. These now respectively cost BDT100 billion ($1.2 million) and BDT50 billion.
The country’s leading operator Grameenphone has a holding of 22MHz across the 900MHz and 1.8GHz bands, slightly less than Robi’s 26.4MHz. State-owned Teletalk has 15.2MHz, while Banglalink clocks in just below this with 15MHz. Bangladesh has around 133 million mobile connections. Around 70 million of these are mobile internet users, with around half of this figure using 3G services.