4G internet service from February 21
GP, Banglalink buy 15.6 MHz spectrum at Tk 52.69b
The country’s internet users will experience high-speed data service from February 21, on the International Mother Language Day.
Meanwhile, two mobile operators—Grameenphone and Banglalink—purchased 15.6 megahertz (MHz) 4G spectrum at a cost of Tk 52.69 billion with 10 percent VAT included at an auction on Tuesday.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission arranged the fourth-generation spectrum auction at Dhaka Club in the capital.
Four mobile operators applied to participate in the 4G spectrum auction, but GP and Banglalink bid the auction.
Robi is planning to provide 4G service utilising its existing 36.4 MHz spectrum. Citycell, however, did not participate in the auction.
Post, telecommunication and information technology minister Mustafa Jabbar, BTRC chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmud, senior officials of the telcos, among others, were present at the auction. Banglalink bought a total of 10.6 MHz spectrum in two bands— 2100 and 1800— while Grameenphone bought 5MHz in only 1800 band.
“The 4G internet service will be approved from February 20 so that the service can be offered from Feb 21,” the BTRC boss said after the auction.
In a post-auction press briefing, GP CEO Michael Foley said, “This additional spectrum combined with our technology neutrality spectrum has placed GP on a firm footing to provide the best 4G experience on the most-modern network in the country.”
Grameenphone has modernised its network, enabling future-forward technology that will allow the customers to experience buffer-free HD video and live streaming, crystal-clear video calling and superfast downloads under its network.
BTRC sources said auction for 4G spectrum in three bands of 900, 1800 and 2100 was held on the day. Base prices for each MHz of 900 and 1800 MHz brand were set at $30 million while that for 2100 MHz was fixed at $27 million.
Robi, the country’s second largest mobile operator, is planning to use its existing spectrum (36.4 MHz) which is enough for offering 4G services.
Citycell, out of service since October 2016, has missed another scope to return to operations. There was a glimmer of a comeback when BTRC announced that Citycell was eligible for 4G licence and spectrum auction.
Technology neutrality allows operators to offer any of the 2G, 3G or 4G services from any band they see fit, a facility that helps reduce the operational costs and improve service quality.
In the auction, BTRC fixed $ 27 million as the floor price per MHz of spectrum in 2100 band while $ 30 million per MHz in 1800 and 900 bands. But, auction for 900 band was not held for reluctance of mobile phone operator, reports BSS.
Lone operator Banglalink bid for 2100 band, but it didn't make call in the first phase where bid price was $ 28 million with the inclusion of $ 1 million as bid increment. Later, in the fourth phase Banglalink collected 5 MHz airwave with $ 27 million each MHz. In the second phase, both Grameenphone and Banglalink bid for 1800 MHz, and Banglalink became the bid winner making first call and acquired 5.6 MHz of contagious spectrum with $ 31 million each MHz. later, Grameenphone also collected 5 MHz at same price. In the fourth phase, the auctioneer made repeated call for 2100 and 1800 bands but both Grameenphone and Banglalink did not respond and the auction was declared end.
After the auction, the market leader Grameenphone totaled 37 MHz of which 7.4 MHz in 900 band, 15.6 MHz in 1800 band and 10 MHz in 2100 band to serve 65.32 million subscribers while Banglalink owns a totaled 30.6 MHz -- 5 MHz in 900 band, 15.6 MHz in 1800 MHz and 10 MHz in 2100 band to serve 32.38 million customers.
Besides, Teletalk has totaled 25.2 MHz of which 5.2 MHz in 900 band, 10 MHz in 1800 band and 10 MHz in 2100 band to serve 4.49 million subscribers.
Meanwhile, the top three operators have completed their preparations for 4G roll-out and have already launched campaigns to drum up excitement for the forthcoming technology.