The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has published the official list of qualified bidders for the upcoming 3G licence auction, confirming that all five private sector domestic cellcos – GrameenPhone, Banglalink, Robi, Airtel and CityCell – are eligible to place bids on 8 September. However, with the 26 August deadline for paying deposits looming, the operators are yet to confirm if they will take part, due to pending issues including an unresolved dispute with the National Board of Revenue (NBR) which has demanded around USD388 million in unpaid VAT on replacement SIM cards. Adding to the uncertainty, the BTRC is yet to issue the final terms of the auction, including confirmation of whether it will issue any unsold licences – previously earmarked for a foreign new entrant – to domestic bidders in the apparent absence of overseas interest, while operators have been querying the details of the auction bidding rules in an ongoing consultation with the regulator.
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