BTRC allowed 15 pc revenue share with mobile operators12 April 2017
Anisul Islam Noor :
The government has given approval to a proposal of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) for 15 percent revenue sharing with the operators from Fourth Generation (4G) services.
BTRC has sent its proposed licensing guideline for 4G services for final approval recently, official at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication said.
At present, the mobile operators are sharing 5.5 percent of their gross revenue from 2G and 3G services with the BTRC, in addition to 1 percent as contribution to the Social Obligation Fund.
Earlier this month, BTRC Chairman Shahjahan Mahmood told the media that they had proposed Tk 15 crore as licence fees for 15 years and another Tk 7.5 crore as annual fees.
"After getting the approval, we will offer 4G licences to the existing operators, who will be able to launch 4G within a couple of months as they are already enjoying technological neutrality in the 2100 band," said Mahmood.
Currently, 4G services are available in all the neighbouring countries, except Bangladesh. As of February there are around 6.67 crore mobile internet users in Bangladesh, 3 crore of whom use 3G services.
The mobile operators already tested their network for 4G services in the 2100 band and got a reasonable 50 to 100 Mbps of speed for both uploads and downloads. At present, they are offering 3G services in this band, which they acquired in 2013 in an auction at a price of $21 million per MHz, sources said.
BTRC also proposed Tk 150 crore for bank performance guarantee, which has to be paid in two separate segments. Operators will have to pay Tk 75 crore for the rollout obligation and another Tk 75 crore to clear future dues, if any.
Under the rollout obligation, operators will have to extend 4G services in all the divisional headquarters within the first nine months of getting the licence.
They are also bound to rollout these services in the district headquarters within 18 months, according to the guideline. They will get three years to rollout 4G services across the country.
If operators comply with these obligations, they will be eligible to a refund of Tk 25 crore in each segment, said an official engaged in formulating the guideline.
The regulator recommends allowing the entry of one new player in the market; the entrant will have to purchase spectrum in the upcoming auction.
The commission also formed a committee on drafting the spectrum auction guideline and that will be completed soon, said the BTRC Chairman.
BTRC has 15 MHz of unsold spectrum in the 2100 band, 10.6 MHz in the 1800 band and some spectrum in the 900 band that was released from Airtel after its merger with Robi.
Mobile operators use the 2100 band for 3G services and 900 and 1800 bands for 2G services. But after getting technology neutrality, they can use the latter two bands for 4G services, which will be cost-effective.
For the auction, the government earlier approved $25 million for each MHz of spectrum, but now it is planning to add $7-$8 million per MHz for technology neutrality, said the BTRC chief further said.
For their existing spectrum, operators have to pay an additional $7-$8 million per MHz for technology neutrality as well the BTRC chairman added.
Technology neutrality allows the operators to offer any service in any band, which will reduce the operators' cost of doing business and improve service quality.
Earlier in February, Prime Minister's ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy directed BTRC to introduce 4G services in the country as soon as possible.
He also approved technology neutrality, which operators have only been demanding.