The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has received five applications for 4G licences, with all four privately-owned operators – GrameenPhone, Robi Axiata, Banglalink and defunct Citycell – set to participate in the spectrum auction scheduled for 13 February. Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of the BTRC, said that state-run Teletalk has not applied for spectrum, noting: ‘Maybe Teletalk thought their existing spectrum was good enough for offering 4G data service.’ The operator currently has 25MHz of spectrum across three bands. Though the BTRC has put a provision in the 4G guidelines to facilitate participation of new entities, no such applications were made, prompting Mahmood to say: ‘It is tough to get any new party but if any application is received the BTRC will send it to the government for their consideration. We have not shut the door to foreign investors.’
The BTRC has already formed two separate committees to evaluate the applications for the 4G licences and spectrum auction; the qualified applications list will be published on 25 January, while a mock auction will be conducted on 12 February. According to the BTRC guidelines, operators must pay an application processing fee of BDT500,000 (USD6,000), a licence fee of BDT100 million and an annual fee of BDT50 million over the 15-year licensing tenure. Operators will, meanwhile, have to pay separately for technological neutrality of their exiting spectrum if they want to offer any service (2G/3G/4G). If any operator opts to make its entire spectrum neutral it will have to pay USD4 million for each MHz, while for partial conversion the charge will be USD7.5 million per MHz.