BTRC to widen access to spectrum auction

Mobile Phone

The telecom regulator plans to bring changes to its spectrum auction guideline to ensure participation of all mobile operators in the upcoming spectrum auction.

The amendments will also create scope for a new operator to enter the market.

In the 1,800 band, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has proposed dividing the 10.6MHz spectrum into three slots, up from two now.

The BTRC also proposed allowing the operators that have more than 20MHz spectrum to take part in the auction in the 1,800 band. Now only Grameenphone has more than 20MHz spectrum.

The proposals will be placed at a meeting of the commission today. The regulator also wants all the operators to participate in the auction in the 2,100 band. Under the existing rules, Citycell, a 2G operator, cannot take part in the auction in the 2,100 band.

BTRC officials, involved in the amendments, said the operators are not showing any interest in the auction. That is why the regulator is putting pressure on the leading operators by giving all the operators access to the auction, they said.

“We are trying to organise a participatory auction and the amendments are needed for that,” said ATM Monirul Alam, commissioner for spectrum management at the BTRC.The floor prices in both the bands will remain the same. Bangladesh now has five 3G operators: Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi, Airtel and state-owned Teletalk.

However, the operators said they will still stick to their previous plan of avoiding the auction. The private telecom operators had earlier written to the regulator and expressed their unwillingness to participate in the auction if the government does not address the disputed issues, including the one regarding SIM replacement tax.

The investor’s decision of not to commit to any new auction until resolution of the long-pending issues, including SIM replacement tax claim, tech neutrality and national telecom policy revision, still stands, Grameenphone said in a statement.

The telecom regulator should hold the auction by May to reach its revenue collection target of Tk 14,000 crore set by the finance ministry for fiscal 2014-15.

The regulator eyes around Tk 5,000 crore from the auction, now scheduled for May 27.