The Financial Express

Bangladesh's spectrum auction sets records

| Updated: March 11, 2021 10:24:43

Bangladesh's spectrum auction sets records

The spectrum auction of the telecoms regulator has broken all previous records as two leading market players stayed in the bid until 81st round for a block.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) held on Monday the auction for nine blocks-five in 1800 megahertz (MHz) and four in 2100 MHz.

The bidding fight brought $888 million or an estimated Tk 75-billion income for the BTRC, which is the highest ever in an auction by the regulator.

However, the mobile operators are to pay Tk 30 billion or 25 per cent of the total auctioned value, including value-added tax until 2027.

The largest operator Grameen-phone bought a total of 10.4 MHz in both bands while Banglalink procured 9.4 MHz and Robi purchased 7.6 MHz for 15 years.

The bidding for the last block of 2100 MHz started at $29 million and ended at $46.75 million, breaking all records.

Spectrum auction is seen as a major revenue source for governments worldwide.

Telecoms operators jostle for a higher frequency of airwaves to improve services and stay competitive in the race for 3G, 4G and 5G networks.

The event began at 11:00 am with four cellphone carriers taking part in the auction.

Brig Gen Md Shahidul Alam, director general of BTRC's spectrum division, began the proceedings.

Telecoms minister Mustafa Jabbar, BTRC chairman Shyam Sunder Sikder and executive officers of the operators attended the programme.

An operator was allowed to take part in the 2100-MHz band auction even if it skips the 1800-MHz band sale.

The BTRC held a spectrum auction in 2018 before the launch of 4G services. It auctioned 46.4-MHz spectrum in 11 blocks at that time.

The telcos bought 15.6 MHz in three blocks while the rest of the spectrum (67 per cent of the total), remained unsold for what they said a high price.

According to the BTRC, it has an 8.4-MHz spectrum of 900-MHz 2G band, 12.4 MHz of 1800-MHz band and 20 MHz of 2100-MHz 3G band unused.

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