The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, who also heads the posts, telecommunications and information technology ministry, has given her approval to cancel Pacific Bangladesh Telecom (CityCell’s) mobile licence over non-payment of fees and charges. It appears that the end of the country’s oldest mobile network operator (MNO) is all but a formality, pending a formal public notification from the telecom regulator the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), which recommended the cancellation last month. Citycell’s spectrum will now be included in the upcoming auction for 4G licences.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month the BTRC asked the government’s permission to cancel the operating licence of CityCell, which has effectively been out of operation since Q4 2016 when the authorities suspended its services for non-payment of debts. The CDMA-based cellco, which is 45%-owned by Singapore’s Singtel Group, has remained in existence only via court orders allowing it time to pay instalments of overdue fees, but, according to the regulator, the MNO did not make any payments for fresh dues incurred between October 2016 and March 2017. Meanwhile, CityCell has paid nearly 65% of the total overdue spectrum/licence/revenue sharing/late penalty fees demanded in October, whilst also continuing to dispute the total amount demanded by the BTRC.