Bangladesh raises nearly $1.24 billion in telecom spectrum auction

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has raised nearly $1.24 billion, or Tk 106 billion, in a telecom spectrum auction for four mobile phone operators. The auction included the first sales for the 5G range on the spectrum.

Published : 31 March 2022, 07:31 AM
Updated : 31 March 2022, 10:31 AM

The auction, which began at the InterContinental Hotel in Dhaka at 11:15 am on Thursday, sold 190 MHz of spectrum to four bidders – Grameenphone, Robi, Banglalink and state-owned operator Teletalk.

The auction featured 10 blocks of 100MHz waves in the 2.3 GHz band and 12 blocks of 120 MHz waves in the 2.6 GHz band.

The base price for each MHz on the spectrum was set at $6.5 million for a unit on a 15-year contract.

Of the buyers, Grameenphone – the country’s largest mobile operator in terms of subscriber count – and Robi purchased the maximum allowed 60 MHz airwaves in the 2.6 GHz band. Banglalink bought 40 MHz of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz range, while Teletalk bought 30 MHz in the range.

Grameenphone said in a statement that it was committed to giving its users the ‘best possible experience’ through the acquisition and thanked the government for running the auction.

“As we roll out the new spectrum, customers will enjoy improved 4G experience. 4G technology will continue to be the primary technology enabling Bangladesh to reach its full digital potential. Looking to the future, through this spectrum acquisition, Grameenphone has demonstrated its commitment to building on its technology leadership by testing 5G,” Grameenphone CEO Yasir Azman said.

“In collaboration with the government, we will identify relevant 5G use cases for Bangladesh for trials/tests in the coming months. We look forward to a dialogue with BTRC on critical regulatory enablers and the overall 5G licensing framework, which will be finalised after industry consultation."

Grameenphone previously owned 46.40 MHz of the spectrum, Robi had the right to use 44 MHz, Banglalink 40 MHz and Teletalk 25.20 MHz.

A total of 220 MHz was up for grabs in Thursday’s auction, the largest in Bangladesh’s history. Thirty MHz airwaves remained unsold.

Operators have to pay 10 percent of the total purchase price within 60 days of the announcement of the final auction results, while the remaining 90 percent will be paid off in equal installments over 9 years.

Currently, 4G services are operational in Bangladesh. Once 5G service is introduced, mobile internet speed is expected to increase severalfold.

The auction was inaugurated by Md Mohiuddin Ahmed, the commissioner of the BTRC Spectrum Division and the convener of the auction management committee.

Minister of Post and Telecommunications Mustafa Jabbar and other senior officials were in attendance.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher