Bangladesh's private operators deal with 3G delays

Melissa Chua
21 Mar 2011
00:00

Private operators in Bangladesh look to be getting sidelined by the government, in favor of the country’s state-run carrier where 3G services are concerned.

Auctions for 3G spectrum had been scheduled for August, but deadlines for submission were delayed until January 12th this year by the country’s regulatory authority. The process has since been held up by red tape.

Meanwhile, the country’s first 3G license was awarded to state-owned Teletalk in November last year, effectively giving the carrier a head start in the potentially profitable 3G sector.

The delays have hit the country’s major private operators – Telenor-owned Grameenphone, Orascom-owned Banglalink, Bharti-Airtel backed Warid and Axiata and Docomo-backed TM International (Bangladesh).

Speculation abounds that the said auctions are being held up by proposed changes to the country’s telecom policy which private operators are opposed to.

The draft policy included having operators share 5.5% of their profit with the government, in addition to a further mandatory spending of 1.5% of profit toward corporate social obligations.

Parts of the draft policy also consisted of proposals to charge operators for license renewals. Proposed charges included Tk10 million ($139,000) for license renewals, Tk100,000 for license application and Tk50 million for annual license fees.

Spectrum fees were also being proposed – Tk1.5 billion for every Mhz of the GSM 1800 band, Tk3 billion for the GSM 900 band and Tk1.5 billion for CDMA.

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