Three private sector international operators by mid-February

15 Jan 2008

An official from the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC), quoted by Independent-Bangladesh, says that the regulator will auction three international voice gateway exchange operating licences by mid-February. The commission is currently choosing a shortlist from the 42 private sector applications it received after launching a tender in October 2007. ‘We are expecting to complete the evaluation by the end of this month and put the licences under hammer in mid-February,’ said the official. The international voice telephony sector is currently a monopoly of state-run Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB).

The auction will be based on open bids, with participants bidding for the percentage of the revenue to be shared with the BTRC. Bidding will start at sharing 25% of revenues with the regulator, and each successive bid will have to be incrementally higher by 0.25%. The watchdog has also set an additional acquisition fee of BDT150 million (USD2.2 million) for each 15-year licence, which include an option for renewal after every five years subject to the BTRC’s approval. All three international gateways will be located in Dhaka and must be open to lawful interception by intelligence agencies.

The three successful bidders must launch services within four months of licensing, and will initially provide access to international networks through Bangladesh’s only submarine fibre link, the SEA-ME-WE 4 cable. Back-up connectivity will be provided via satellite earth station until an alternative submarine cable is available. Under the BTRC’s International Long Distance Telecommunication Services Policy 2007, approved by the government last August, the licensing will be followed by a second phase interconnecting local exchanges to the international gateways and access network service (ANS) providers, and a final stage enabling private ANS providers to offer direct services, such as VoIP telephony, to end-users. The Policy also stipulates that only companies owned by Bangladeshi citizens resident in the country are eligible to obtain licences, whilst barring the existing private sector mobile, fixed line and internet service providers from applying.



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