BTRC issuing additional 2100MHz, 1800MHz bands by March; 700MHz must wait

3 Dec 2014

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) plans to auction unused spectrum in the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands to existing mobile operators by March next year to help improve voice and data services, as discussed in a meeting between the watchdog and the cellcos this week, reports local newspaper the Daily Star. A BTRC official confirmed that the frequencies up for grabs comprise 2×10.6MHz in the 1800MHz band and 2×15MHz in the 2100MHz range. Wireless market leader GrameenPhone and state-owned Teletalk operate 3G W-CDMA/HSPA+ services over 2×10MHz of 2100MHz bandwidth each, while rivals Robi, Banglalink and Airtel all operate 3G with just 2×5MHz of 2100MHz spectrum each under 3G/4G licences auctioned in September 2013. The private cellcos’ existing 1800MHz GSM licences do not permit 4G services. The regulator had earlier planned to release the 700MHz band next year for 4G LTE technology, but has backtracked on this proposal as it considers the Bangladeshi market is not yet ready for 4G; operators have lobbied for permission to launch 1800MHz LTE services, but this is not yet forthcoming.

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