Tuesday, 30 May, 2023

BTRC to finalise 4G licensing guideline by April

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will formulate the licensing guidelines next month in order to allocate spectrum to the mobile operators for introducing 4G services.

Bangladesh will use the 700 megahertz spectrum for LTE technology to enable the operators to offer 4G services.

 “We will complete the 4G licensing guideline that will help determine the eligibility for getting 4G licences,” BTRC chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood told daily sun.

He said the regulator is discussing with the telecom operators in this regard.  “BTRC is planning to invite bids for the 4G spectrum auction by June,” another official informed.

The regulator is likely to set the spectrum neutrality charges between $5 million and $7 million.

However, the country’s largest telecom operator Grameenphone is reluctant to participate in a 4G auction that comes without spectrum neutrality.

“Besides, the market is not ready yet for 4G/LTE,” said the telecom operator.

“We are not participating the 4G/LTE auction if the government introduces the 700 megahertz spectrum without technology neutrality,” said Mahmud Hossain, chief corporate affairs officer at Grameenphone.

“Only four percent handsets are 4G-enabled in the local market. Besides, the quality of services would be hampered if 4G/LTE is launched without technology neutrality,” he said.

Mahmud Hossain said Grameenphone will participate in the 4G auction if technology neutrality and the 4G auction come together. “Then GP would be able to introduce limited 4G services,” he said.  

“Most importantly, we would like to see the technology neutrality is introduced to help ensure the quality of services and enhanced customer experience,” Mahmud Hossain said, adding that the benefits of technology neutrality are manifolds—- more efficient use of spectrum, better quality, speed and lower prices.

Mobile internet services do not levy any additional charge for introducing technology neutrality. Most EU governments, USA, Canada, Thailand, Pakistan, Malaysia and many other markets are experiencing tech neutrality.

Most of the frequencies – 900 MHz and 1800 MHz – held by mobile operators are currently limited to be used for 2G.

Only 2100 MHz bands has been made technology neutral and is currently being used for 3G services.

Asif Ahmed, head of corporate communications of Banglalink, said, “4G is an integral part of our digital transformation promises.”

“We welcome 4G with spectrum neutrality. However, for that to happen, we have requested the regulator to first ensure that the spectrum is made available.”

“Another request we have made to the regulator is to enable us to sell our towers which will help us further invest for spectrum and network expansion in Bangladesh,” he said.