Bangladesh pursues 3G auction

Nicole McCormick
08 Jan 2010

Bangladesh’s telecom regulator is close to completing the country’s 3G regulations, with a view to issuing a minimum of four licenses via open auction in 2H10.

The move follows the regulator’s approval on Monday for Indian mobile giant Bharti Airtel to purchase a 70% stake in Bangladesh’s fourth-largest cellco Warid Telecom for $300 million.

“We are finalizing guidelines for 3G licensing [which] will be finished by June 2010,” Zia Ahmed, chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunications and Regulatory Commission, reportedly said.

BTRC officials, who did not want to be quoted, said UK-based mobile firm Vodafone – which does not hold a stake in any of Bangladesh’s six mobile operators - had approached the regulator to bid for 3G spectrum.

Market leaders Telenor-backed Grameenphone, Orascom-owned Banglalink and NTT DoCoMo-backed Axiata Bangladesh will also be gunning for 3G licenses. Second-to-last operator Bangladesh Telecom, 45%-held by SingTel, is also expected to bid for 3G spectrum.

The BTRC’s Ahmed also criticized the country’s incumbent operators, saying mobile growth slowed in 2009 due to operators’ reluctance to invest heavily in network expansion. “As a result, telecom penetration could not achieve our desired level,” Ahmed said.

Meanwhile, the BTRC plans to open up its international telecommunications gateway segment to the private sector, paving the way for operators to rollout submarine cables and connect terrestrial lines with India.

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