4G licensing draft guidelines published for comment

7 Jul 2017

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has published draft 4G mobile licensing guidelines for industry comment, including a proposal that 4G licensees be required to float shares on the local stock market. The regulator previously proposed a similar local listing requirement in Bangladesh’s 2G licence renewal process, but the guideline was scrapped in the final version, the Daily Star notes, adding that the BTRC has not yet specified a percentage of shares to be floated. Mobile market leader GrameenPhone is currently the only cellco listed on the Dhaka Stock Exchange, via an initial public offering (IPO) of 10% equity in 2009.

In other aspects of the draft guidelines, 4G licensees would be subject to rollout obligations covering all divisional headquarters (capitals) within the first nine months of licensing, and all district headquarters within 18 months, with nationwide services expected in three years. Licensees would be liable to share 5.5% of revenues from 4G services with the BTRC, and pay 1% of revenues to the social obligation fund.

The draft also contains scope for the entry of a new player acquiring 4G spectrum. The number of active cellcos in Bangladesh has been reduced recently due to the closure of CityCell for non-payment of overdue fees, whilst two players, Airtel Bangladesh and Robi Axiata, merged under the Robi banner last year. The government aims to see 4G LTE services introduced this year, and network operators have indicated their technical readiness.

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