1800MHz, 2100MHz auction pushed back to 20 May; govt approves 1% mobile surcharge

31 Mar 2015

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has pushed back the date for auctioning unused 1800MHz and 2100MHz band spectrum to 20 May 2015 from its previous schedule of 30 April, after cellcos GrameenPhone, Robi Axiata, Banglalink and Airtel Bangladesh requested the deferment, BDNews24 reports. According to a letter from the regulator, the deadline for submitting applications is 16 April, and a list of eligible bidders will be published on 21 April ahead of a consultation on the auction process to be held on 26 April. 12 May is the deadline for submitting bid deposits, and the final auction will be held on 20 May following a mock auction the day before. The winners will be announced on the same day as the auction, according to the BTRC’s letter. However, there remains potential for further disruption, as the mobile operators on 1 March sent a letter to the finance ministry stating that they would not take part in the auction since their various demands remained unmet, including: withdrawal of VAT on sold spectrum; settlement of the case over tax on replacement SIM cards; revision of the telecoms law; freedom to use spectrum for multiple purposes; and revision of tariff structures.

In other Bangladesh news, the government approved a draft law on 30 March imposing an additional 1% surcharge on all mobile phone-based service usage; if the law is passed by parliament, BDT1 (USD0.0126) will be deducted from every BDT100 usage of any voice, data or value added service, according to local newspaper the Daily Star. The latest surcharge is additional to the existing 15% VAT levied on mobile service bills/credit top-ups.

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