According to the annual report of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) for 2013/14, the country’s four privately owned mobile operators – Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and Airtel – collectively invested BDT98 billion (USD1.24 billion) in the development of their networks and services. The telecoms regulator told local paper the Daily Star that another private operator, CityCell, and state-backed Teletalk ‘did not invest during the year’ although this has been disputed by Teletalk with its MD Giasuddin Ahmed saying that his firm had committed CAPEX in the period under review, but that ‘BTRC did not seek any information from us on our investment’. However, he declined to say how much the firm had actually spent.
TeleGeography notes that in September 2013 the four cellcos each acquired 2×5MHz of bandwidth in the 2100MHz band for the rollout of 3G/4G services, agreeing to pay a total of BDT40 billion in instalments. Teletalk also bought a 2×10MHz block of spectrum but it is yet to clear the payment — around BDT16 billion. The state-run operator has been using the spectrum since 2012. CityCell, meanwhile, did not buy any 3G spectrum and is struggling to pay off its 2G licence renewal fees and the portion of its revenue it is required to share with the government.
The BTRC’s annual report goes on to say that the six mobile network operators generated total (gross) revenue of BDT207.65 billion through voice, data and other value added services (VAS). Additionally, the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh notes that between 1997 and 2013, the cellcos invested more than BDT718.7 billion in their networks.