Operators in Bangladesh spent around BDT106.4 billion ($1.2 billion) to secure spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz bands as they seek to improve existing 4G services and prepare the way for 5G networks.

The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BRTC) auctioned ten 10MHz blocks in the 2.3GHz band and 12 10MHz blocks in the 2.6GHz band. Around 30MHz remained unsold.

Grameenphone and Robi Axiata each acquired the maximum amount of 60MHz in the 2.6GHz band. The Business Standard reported the operators both paid around BDT33.6 billion for the frequencies.

State-owned operator Teletalk acquired 30MHz and Banglalink 40MHz in the 2.3GHz band, with the former paying around BDT16.8 billion and the latter around BDT22.4 billion.

The spectrum licences have 15-year terms, with operators required to pay 10 per cent within 60 days and the remainder in equal instalments over nine years.

Grameenphone increased its total spectrum assets to 107.4MHz, while Robi Axiata now has 104MHz, Banglalink 80MHz and Teletalk 55.2MHz.

The Business Standard quoted Grameenphone CEO Yasir Azman as noting while 4G technology will continue to be the primary technology in Bangladesh, the operators will work with the government to identify relevant 5G use cases for trials in the coming months.

Only last year, the four operators spent $898.2 million to secure spectrum in the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands to expand their limited 4G holdings.

In December 2021, Huawei and Nokia partnered Teletalk for the deployment of the nation’s first 5G network in limited areas of Dhaka.