Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is set to hold the much-awaited spectrum auction in different bands today for introducing 4G/LTE service in the country.
Two mobile network operators (MNOs) are taking part in the auction although four MNOs applied for vie it.
"Grameenphone and Banglalink are participating in tomorrow's spectrum auction," BTRC Secretary and Spokesperson Sarwar Alam confirmed the information to the journalists yesterday.
He said Grameenphone has secured its seat only for 1800 MHz while Banglalink for 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz.
Telecom regulator had arranged spectrum auction for 900 MHz, four blocks in 1800 MHz and five blocks in 2100 MHz bands. Each block in 2100 band contains 5 MHz of spectrum while four blocks (one 5.6 MHz, two 5 MHz and another 2.4 MHz) in 1800 band.
In the auction, the BTRC will give away 25 MHz in 2100 MHz band with a floor price of $27 million per MHz. It will also put up for sale 18 MHz in the 1800 MHz band and 3.4 MHz in the 900 MHz band, both starting off with $30 million per MHz. But, now 900 bands will not be auctioned for the reluctance of MNOs, according to BSS.
Initially, four operators-- Grameenphone, Robi, Banglalink and Citycell-- applied and became eligible for the much-awaited auction.
But, finally, Robi and Citycell refrained to obtain their seat in the auction not paying the bid earnest money. On the other hand, market leader Grameenphone deposited bid earnest money only for 1800 MHz while Banglalink for 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz. None of them showed interest for 900 MHz.
Banglalink paid Taka 300 crore to bid for two bands while Grameenphone paid Taka 150 crore.
Meanwhile, Citycell, out of service since October 2016, has missed another scope to return to operations. There was a glimmer of a comeback when BTRC announced that Citycell was eligible for 4G license and spectrum auction.
State-owned Teletalk did not even apply to attend the auction as it believes to have enough spectrum to offer 4G service.
Robi is reluctant to make any comment why they are not participating in the auction.
Robi which merged with Airtel has totaled 36.4 MHz spectrum in three different bands-- 9 MHz in 900 bands, 17.4 MHz in 1800 band and 10 MHz in 2100 band-- to serve 42.90 million customers.
Market leader Grameenphone has totaled 32 MHz of which 7.4 MHz in 900 band, 14.6 MHz in 1800 band and 10 MHz in 2100 band to serve 65.32 million subscribers while Banglalink owns a totaled 20 MHz -- 5 MHz in 900 bands, 10 MHz in 1800 MHz and 5 MHz in 2100 band-- to serve 32.38 million customers.
Besides, Teletalk has totaled 25.2 MHz of which 5.2 MHz in 900 band, 10 MHz in 1800 band and 10 MHz in 2100 band to serve 4.49 million subscribers.
Operators will have to pay separately for technological neutrality if they want to offer services through any technology (2G/3G/4G/LTE) using any of the frequencies they get.
In case of the conversion in one go, the charge will be US$4 million for every 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz, while it will be US$7.5 million for converting partly.