Bangladesh’s prime minister has approved the telecoms regulator’s draft guidelines for the 1.8 and 2.1GHz spectrum auction scheduled for 30 April. The deadline for submitting applications is 26 February.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) submitted the guidelines in December, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved them without any major changes, the Dhaka Tribune reported.
The guidelines, however, will prevent Grameenphone, the country’s largest operator with a 42 per cent market share, from participating in the 1.8GHz auction because only operators with less than 20MHz in the 900MHz and 1.8GHz bands are eligible for the first round. If the spectrum remains unsold after the first round, Grameenphone can participate in the second round.
Grameenphone CEO Rajeev Sethi said two weeks ago that it sees the proposed guidelines as “unfair discrimination and would be a significant deterrent to us participating in the auctions”.
The BTRC has defended the guidelines, noting that the auction is intended to “reduce the gap of spectrum between the operators”, the Tribune said.
Grameenphone said it may challenge the approved guidelines in court.
Meanwhile, the GSMA sent letters last week to the prime minister’s office, post and telecoms ministry, finance ministry, ICT ministry and regulator calling for public consultation from the industry before the spectrum auction is held.
While the GSMA said it welcomed the release of additional spectrum to address the increasing use of data services, it emphasised the need to make the allocation of new spectrum “transparent and consistent” with international best practices so as to avoid sub-optimal outcome for all stakeholders concerned.
The reserve price of the 10.6MHz of 1.8GHz airwaves (sold in two slots: 5MHz and 5.6MHz) is $30 million per megahertz, while the 15MHz of 2.1GHz spectrum has a base price of $22 million per megahertz.
BTRC expects the auction to generate about BDT50 billion ($631 million).