Bangladeshi cellco Banglalink – part of the VEON (formerly VimpelCom) group – says it wants to invest USD1 billion over the next three years to improve its service quality as well as support the government’s Digital Bangladesh vision, reports the Daily Star. Actual investment, however, depends on ‘a favourable investment and regulatory framework’, said Jean-Yves Charlier, VEON CEO. Since its inception in 2005, Banglalink has invested over USD2.5 billion.
At a briefing, the group welcomed the upcoming 4G 1800MHz auction, saying: ‘Banglalink looks forward to working with the regulator on securing the additional spectrum at the earliest opportunity to continue to meet its quality of service obligations and offer better services.’ On the negative side, however, the firm added that a disproportionate telecoms tax regime and spectrum costs constitute an obstacle that must be addressed, adding: ‘The tax burden and spectrum fees per MHz are among the highest when compared to international benchmarks. This will impact the investment capacity in 3G and 4G networks and thus the customer experience.’
It was also noted that Banglalink recently applied for a direct assignment of additional spectrum in the 2100MHz band but the request was rejected by the regulator. On another issue, spectrum sharing, Banglalink/VEON said: ‘Introducing sharing across all technologies (2G, 3G, 4G and beyond) would be a critical regulatory initiative to facilitate more competition in rural areas and critical in the acceleration of 4G coverage equal to the current 2G/3G levels.’ The VEON group also intends to sell off its tower portfolio in each of its markets including Bangladesh as it no longer considers it essential to the provision of new digital services to consumers. ‘Banglalink believes that such a move will allow us to unlock precious capital and further invest in its spectrum portfolio, networks and digital initiatives,’ the CEO stated.