Bangladesh regulator targets 1800MHz/2100MHz auction ‘by June’

5 Feb 2016

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has set a new target for launching its delayed mobile spectrum auction in the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands by the end of June this year, and has revised the guidelines in an attempt to attract operators previously unwilling to bid due to a tax disagreement and licensing costs. Mobile World Live reports that auction terms have been amended to allow participants other than existing Bangladeshi mobile licensees, while the reserve price for 1800MHz spectrum has been reduced by USD5 million to USD25 million per MHz, although the 2100MHz floor price has been increased by USD3 million to the same level. The sale plans were suspended last year after domestic cellcos failed to resolve the long-running ‘SIM replacement tax’ argument with the BTRC and the government, and a pending court case over the tax issue puts the regulator’s new June 2016 auction target in doubt too. The operators had also questioned what they considered high base prices for spectrum as well as a lack of guidelines on technology-neutrality, as the 1800MHz frequencies are required for 4G LTE network development alongside 2G services. The likelihood of new entrants bidding for spectrum is thought to be low, as the market is crowded with six well-established players (albeit soon to be five with the merger of Robia Axiata and Airtel Bangladesh).

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