Bangladesh’s telecoms regulator has revised its guidelines for the planned spectrum auction in an attempt to attract the country’s mobile players to the sale, which was postponed several times last year due to a lack of interest from operators.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) amended the auction terms to allow non-licence holders to participate and has reduced the reserve price of the 1.8GHz spectrum by $5 million to $25 million per megahertz but increased the price of the 2.1GHz spectrum by $3 million to $25 million per megahertz, the Financial Express reported.
The BTRC aims to hold the auction this fiscal year, which ended 30 June, but that appears to be ambitious.
The regulator delayed the sale multiple times last year after operators failed to resolve the long-simmering SIM replacement tax issue with the regulator and the finance minster. A court case is now pending over the dispute. The operators have also balked at what they consider high base prices for the spectrum as well as a lack of guidelines on ‘technology neutrality’, meaning operators can use spectrum for any type of mobile technology (2G, 3G or 4G).
The move to accept bids from non-operators was an effort to attract more bidders and make the auction more competitive, the BTRC said. But analysts noted it was merely an attempt to “spook” operators to join the sale. The likelihood of non-licence holders bidding for spectrum in a market with six players is slim.
The amended guidelines also call for an ‘outcry auction’, which involves verbal bids and offers as well as hand signals to convey trading information in the trading pits.
The Post and Telecommunications Division reported earlier this week that it will miss its revenue target for FY2015 set at BDT73.6 billion ($912 million) since the sale of 1.8 and 2.1GHz spectrum couldn’t be held this fiscal year. But it aims to hit its target for fiscal 2016, the Dhaka Tribune said.
The division and regulator are under pressure from the finance ministry to hit its target to help the government’s budget shortfall.