Bangladesh’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MoPT) has released an amended draft outline of the planned auction of 2100MHz 3G licences (also allowing 4G LTE services). The ‘Cellular Mobile Phone Services (3G/4G/LTE) Regulatory and Licensing Guidelines’ state that a total of five licences will be issued, including, as previously announced, one set aside for state-owned cellco Teletalk, and four to be sold via open auction, through which the MoPT aims to attract a maximum of one new mobile licensee. A new entrant would also be eligible for a 2G licence, including up to 10MHz spectrum in the 1800MHz band, and would be given a discount of 30% on standard 2G licence fees. If the attempt to attract a new entrant is successful, it would mean two of the country’s five existing private sector cellcos – GSM-based GrameenPhone, Banglalink, Robi Axiata and Airtel plus CDMA-based CityCell – would miss out on a 3G licence. The guidelines also state that ‘for the development, operation and rollout of 2G and 3G/4G/LTE services, 100% of foreign direct investment/foreign partnership/joint venture/other investment from non-resident Bangladeshi will be permitted. The foreign partner shall invest foreign currency directly equal to its percentage of ownership and no loan from any Bangladeshi schedule bank/financial institution/leasing company can be raised for the foreign part of the investment during the tenure of licence.’ In the upcoming auction for four blocks of 2×10MHz 3G spectrum, the reserve bidding price per 1MHz of paired spectrum is set at USD30 million under the MoPT’s draft guidelines (therefore USD300 million per licence). Each licence has a duration of 15 years (renewable for five-year periods thereafter). The fifth 3G licence will be awarded to Teletalk at an equivalent winning bid price. The deadline for submitting comments on the proposals was set at 22 August 2012 and the government hopes to issue the licences by the end of the year.
The 2×50MHz of 3G spectrum is available in five paired blocks (10MHz uplink + 10MHz downlink) as follows: 1920MHz-1930MHz + 2110MHz-2120MHz; 1930MHz-1940MHz + 2120MHz-2130MHz; 1940MHz-1950MHz + 2130MHz-2140MHz; 1950MHz-1960MHz + 2140MHz-2150MHz; and 1960MHz-1970MHz + 2150MHz-2160MHz.