The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is lining up a prospective fourth broadband wireless access (BWA) WiMAX/LTE licensee, and has approached Mango Teleservices with the offer of the concession, according to the Daily Star. Mango, which currently operates in the country’s international internet gateway (IIG) and international terrestrial cable (ITC) sectors, came away empty handed from the regulator’s 2008 BWA licence auction, although it still has a legal case pending with the High Court under which it claims it should have been granted more time to pay spectrum fees in exchange for a licence, which at the time permitted mobile WiMAX-based data services only. Earlier this year the BTRC and the telecoms ministry implemented amendments to BWA licences held by mobile WIMAX operators Banglalion and Qubee, to include the operation of LTE-based wireless broadband (data-only) services too – and shortly afterwards Russian/Bangladeshi fixed WiMAX operator Ollo (via ISP licensee BIEL) was announced as the recipient of the third BWA licence including 2500MHz-2600MHz spectrum. All three companies are expected to roll out new services based on LTE/TD-LTE technology soon. The Star quotes Masud Kabir, managing director of Mango, as saying that he received a call from the BTRC requesting a meeting to review if his firm wanted the fourth BWA licence, to which he responded that he would discuss the viability of the licence with the company’s other investors. The BTRC confirmed that it intended to discuss with Mango’s management whether they wanted the licence under the current terms and conditions, with the watchdog’s chairman Sunil Kanti Bose quoted as saying: ‘Mango Teleservices never informed us about their requirement. They did not apply for the licence yet. So we will have to sit with them for the process.’ Any new licence award would require approval from the telecoms ministry.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that the BWA licence which was previously relinquished by Mango (following its delay of payment) included rights to unpaired (TDD) spectrum in the 2330MHz-2365MHz band – although it has not been confirmed whether this is the band being offered by the BTRC with the fourth mobile WiMAX/LTE concession. Banglalion and Qubee hold the unpaired 35MHz (TDD) bands 2585MHz-2620MHz and 2365MHz-2400MHz respectively. State-owned incumbent telco BTCL was also granted rights to additional WiMAX (BWA) spectrum free of charge following the 2008 auction, but, as the telecoms ministry confirmed in a recent public notice on the BWA licensing amendments, BTCL never took up the offer of the licence. The amendments included the planned assignment of three new 40MHz (2×20MHz) FDD spectrum allotments for existing and/or new BWA licensees in the 2500MHz-2600MHz bands, as follows: 2510MHz-2530MHz (uplink), 2630MHz-2650MHz (downlink); 2530MHz-2550MHz, 2650MHz-2670MHz; and 2550MHz-2570MHz, 2670MHz-2690MHz. Ollo is assumed to have been issued one of these three new paired bands, while the other two allocations are expected to be claimed by the two existing mobile WiMAX operators Banglalion and Qubee. The amendment said that existing BWA operators could either replace or expand their assigned spectrum. LTE services (FDD and/or TDD) provided under the BWA licences permit only internet/data access, not voice telephony, although users may access voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) services ‘over-the-top’ via their internet connections.