Long wait for fixed lines in Dhaka over ‘soon’

28 Mar 2006

The Bangladeshi government has decided to invite bids from private domestic and foreign companies for four fixed line operating licences in Dhaka. Local television channel ATN Bangla reported that the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is planning an auction with a non-refundable application fee of BDT10 million (USD143,000), and has set a licence fee of BDT150 million (USD2.14 million) plus BDT12 million (USD171,400) annual renewal charge. The channel said the BTRC will hold a meeting with prospective bidders on 10 April and the last day for submitting bids will be 8 May.

State-run fixed line operator Bangladesh Telegraph & Telephone Board (BTTB) has been unable to meet the growing demand for fixed lines in the capital, estimated to be anywhere between 250,000 and a million in a city of over 12 million. The only private sector telco licensed to provide fixed line services in the central zone encompassing Dhaka and its surrounds is UK-owned WorldTel. In April 2005 WorldTel contracted Chinese vendor ZTE to install a CDMA-based WiLL network with a 200,000 user capacity in Dhaka, claiming it would launch limited mobility services by October 2005, but it has since repeatedly deferred its commercial launch. For its first rollout phase, now scheduled for June this year, WorldTel has announced a total budget of USD150 million to serve at least 150,000 new customers, with a longer term goal of rolling out 300,000 lines in several stages.

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