The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has sent a recommendation to the Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications (MoPT) to approve the issuing of a nationwide WiMAX (mobile and fixed-wireless) 2.5GHz broadband network operating licence to Russian-backed Bangladeshi ISP Ollo, which currently operates fixed-wireless 3.5GHz WiMAX services in Dhaka. The Daily Star reports that Ollo’s proposed new licence fee is set at BDT2.15 billion (USD27.2 million) – the same price paid by the two existing licensees Banglalion and Qubee in 2008 – whilst the regulator also proposed that up to two new mobile WiMAX concessions could be issued, with the future option for all WiMAX operators to evolve to Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile broadband technology subject to individual permission from the authorities and additional fees.
As reported by CommsUpdate in May, Ollo (a joint venture between two Bangladeshi ISPs – New Generation Graphics Limited [NGGL] and Bangladesh Internet Exchange Limited [BIEL] – and the latter’s Russian-based parent Multinet with additional investment from the Russian ICT Group) applied for a vacant mobile WiMAX licence left over from the 2008 auction. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that Banglalion and Qubee won respective 35MHz blocks of 2585MHz-2620MHz and 2365MHz-2400MHz in 2008, with a third block (2330MHz-2365MHz) eventually left vacant after being awarded to two successive applicants, bracNET and Mango Teleservices, who failed to satisfy the BTRC’s licence fee payment conditions. Ollo partner BIEL was placed fifth in the 2008 bidding tender. BTRC chairman Sunil Kanti Bose commented in May: ‘We received an application from Multinet [Ollo] for a WiMAX permit. After scrutiny, we will send it to the telecommunications ministry. They will get the licence if the government decides to approve, otherwise not.’ Ollo was also recently rumoured to have tested LTE equipment.