The government has collected Taka 5,268 crore by selling 15.6 Megahertz (MHz) of spectrum to Grameenphone and Banglalink through auction as well as conversion fee for technology neutrality.
Mobile phone operator Banglalink acquired a total of 10.6 MHz spectrum — 5 MHz in 2100 band and 5.6 MHz in 1800 band with Taka 2558 crore while market leader Grameenphone took 5 MHz only in 1800 band at a price of Taka 1,284 crore. Besides, Taka 850 crore came as spectrum conversion fee for technology neutrality and the remaining from VAT.
For the second time, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) today organized the much awaited auction in capital to sell 46.4 MHz of spectrum in 2100, 1800 and 900 bands to introduce fastest 4G service in the country. The first ever spectrum auction was held in September 8, 2013.
Another two operators, Robi and Citycell, didn’t participate in the auction although they had applied for it.
The second largest mobile operator Robi thought their existing spectrum (36.4 MHz) will be enough for offering 4G services. Citycell, out of service since October 2016, has missed another scope to return to operations. There was a glimmer of a comeback when BTRC announced that Citycell was eligible for 4G licence and spectrum auction.
State-owned Teletalk even didn’t apply for the spectrum auction.
“We will hand over the 4G license to Grameenphone, Robi, Banglalink and Teletalk on February 20 so they could introduce the service on February 21, the international mother language day,” revealed BTRC Chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood at the post-auction press briefing.
The acquisition fee of 4G license is Taka 10 crore. In case of the conversion in one go, the charge will be $ 4 million for each 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz, while it will be $ 7.5 million for converting partly.
Technology neutrality allows operators to offer either 2G, 3G or 4G services from any band they see fit, a facility that helps in reducing the operational costs and improving the quality of service.
In the auction, BTRC fixed $ 27 million as the floor price per MHz of spectrum in 2100 band while $ 30 million per MHz in 1800 and 900 bands. But, auction for 900 band was not held for reluctance of mobile phone operator.
Lone operator Banglalink bid for 2100 band, but it didn’t make call in the first phase where bid price was $ 28 million with the inclusion of $ 1 million as bid increment. Later, in the fourth phase Banglalink collected 5 MHz airwave with $ 27 million each MHz.
In the second phase, both Grameenphone and Banglalink bid for 1800 MHz, and Banglalink became the bid winner making first call and acquired 5.6 MHz of contagious spectrum with $ 31 million each MHz. later, Grameenphone also collected 5 MHz at same price.
In the fourth phase, the auctioneer made repeated call for 2100 and 1800 bands but both Grameenphone and Banglalink did not respond and the auction was declared end.
After the auction, the market leader Grameenphone totaled 37 MHz of which 7.4 MHz in 900 band, 15.6 MHz in 1800 band and 10 MHz in 2100 band to serve 65.32 million subscribers while Banglalink owns a totaled 30.6 MHz — 5 MHz in 900 band, 15.6 MHz in 1800 MHz and 10 MHz in 2100 band to serve 32.38 million customers.
Besides, Teletalk has totaled 25.2 MHz of which 5.2 MHz in 900 band, 10 MHz in 1800 band and 10 MHz in 2100 band to serve 4.49 million subscribers.
Meanwhile, the top three operators have completed their preparations for 4G roll-out and have already launched campaigns to drum up excitement for the forthcoming technology.