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Spectrum auction seems uncertain as mobile operators show reluctance

By UNB, DHAKA
17th-May-2015       
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Uncertainty looms over BTRC's upcoming 1800 & 2100 MHz bands spectrum auction as the country's top mobile operators are unwilling to participate in the auction as long as their various issues, including SIM replacement tax dispute, are resolved.  The auction was first scheduled for April 30 and rescheduled twice to May 20 and May 27. Then it has been deferred to June 10 for the third time.
Sources at the BTRC (Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission) said in February they fixed April 30 for holding auction to sell 1800 & 2100 MHz band but no mobile operator submitted application to the commission to join the auction.  The BTRC later rescheduled its auction date twice fixing May 20 and then May 27, but it did not get any response from the mobile operators.
Sources at the mobile operators said a meeting was held between the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the four mobile operators and the BTRC chairman on March 18 in this regard.  Later, the phone companies-Telenor Group for Grameenphone, vimpelcom for banglalink, Axiata Group for Robi and chief executive of Indian Airtel for the Airtel-sent separate letters to the Finance Minister in the first week of March for resolving the unsettled issues.
The CEOs of the four companies again sent letters to the Finance Minister on March 22 asking for deferring the auction date until the complexity over SIM replacement tax is settled.  SIM replacement tax claim is a long-disputed issue of about Tk 3,000 crore, which has remained unresolved for the past three years.  The BTRC fixed the price of per megahertz spectrum of 1800 MHZ band web at US$ 3 crore and per MHZ for 2100 MHZ band at $ 2.20 crore as in the auction bid.
Talking to UNB, secretary of Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTO) TIM Nurul Kabir said the investor organisations took the decision not to join the spectrum auction floated by the BTRC.

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