CityCell issued with ‘final’ payment demands by regulator, competitor

15 Dec 2014

Bangladeshi newspaper the Daily Star reports that mobile market leader GrameenPhone has served notice on the country’s smallest cellco CityCell demanding payment of an outstanding amount of BDT101.6 million (USD1.31 million) in two weeks, including interconnection charges outstanding since October 2011 plus 15% interest. Taslim Ahmed, head of corporate affairs of CityCell, said the company had received the notice and was ‘in the process of discussion with GrameenPhone to settle the issue amicably.’ However, CityCell also owes over BDT2.5 billion to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) in overdue 2G licence renewal fees dating back to 2011, and the regulator has served ‘final’ notice on CityCell – the country’s only CDMA-based operator – with a call to clear the dues. Another Bangladeshi paper, the Financial Express, writes that CityCell may lose its operating licence as the regulator is set to take ‘tough action’ over the non-payment. ‘We are considering taking action including cancellation of [CityCell’s] spectrum allocation, in case of its failure to comply with the final notice that will expire on 18 December 2014,’ an anonymous BTRC official was quoted as saying, who underlined that the cancellation of spectrum would lead to the termination of the operating licence. Leading up to the ‘final’ 15-day notice issued in early December, the regulator has sent notices and reminders to CityCell – part-owned by Singapore’s SingTel – ‘at least five times’, according to the official. Taslim Ahmed told the Express that the company is working with the regulator to settle the issue, claiming: ‘We are sincere about paying the dues. However, it will take time,’ and adding that the financially-struggling company is ‘hopeful’ of settling the issue within the stipulated time.

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