Mobile operators Grameenphone and Banglalink acquired 15.6MHz of 4G spectrum for $463.6 million in the country’s long-awaited LTE auction, The Daily Star reported.

Banglalink, the country’s third largest player with a 22 per cent market share, paid $308.6 million for 5.6MHz of paired spectrum in the 1.8GHz band and 5MHz of paired spectrum in the 2.1GHz band. Market leader Grameenphone acquired 2x5MHz in the 1.8GHz band for $155 million.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission auctioned off 25MHz of spectrum in the 2.1GHz band, 18MHz in the 1.8GHz band and 3.4MHz in the 900MHz band, but only about a third was sold. It had planned to raise as much as BDT110 billion ($1.32 billion).

Four mobile operators – Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi Axiata and Citycell – were cleared to participate in the auction on 13 February, but only Grameenphone and Banglalink put down the required deposit by a deadline earlier in the month. Robi Axiata, the country’s second largest operator, reportedly did not participate as it considered its existing spectrum holding sufficient to offer 4G services.

Enhancing speeds
Banglalink, a subsidiary of Veon and Global Telecom, said in a statement the technology neutral spectrum will allow it to double its 3G network capacity and deploy a 4G network. The company will pay $35 million to convert its existing 900MHz and 1.8GHz holdings into technology neutral spectrum and $1.2 million to acquire a LTE licence.

Jean-Yves Charlier, CEO of Veon, said: “Securing this spectrum boosts our spectrum holding by over 50 per cent in Bangladesh and creates momentum for the turnaround of the Banglalink business. We look forward to launching our 4G/LTE services imminently and providing customers with significantly enhanced data speeds and connectivity.”

The two winners need to make an upfront payment of 60 per cent in 30 days, with the remaining 40 per cent payable over four years.

Grameenphone and Robi Axiata will also pay $1.2 million each for a 4G licence.