The Financial Express

Proposed fees will burden mobile broadband   

Published: August 31, 2017 21:31:18 | Updated: October 23, 2017 18:12:43

Proposed fees will burden mobile broadband    

CITIZENS of Bangladesh deserve faster mobile broadband speeds and improved coverage, connecting more people and providing them a better mobile experience. But for that to happen, the government should not put in place rules that hamper the rollout of new services.

The government is proposing to burden mobile operators with additional "technology neutrality" fees to give them the flexibility to roll out new technologies like 4G on spectrum they already hold, as well as new spectrum. While the introduction of technology neutrality is welcome and indeed necessary for achieving the goals of a Digital Bangladesh - charging yet another fee increases already-high costs of service provision. Allowing operators the flexibility to deploy state-of-the-art technology provides many benefits to citizens including better consumer choice, lower prices and innovative new services. But for affordable services to reach users, the costs mobile operators have to pay for licences must be reasonable.

Internationally it is already the best practice for governments not to charge a separate fee for allowing operators to upgrade technology, with examples in Germany, Namibia, Ukraine, France and Russia. Similarly, recent auctions in Iceland, Thailand, Gabon, Denmark, Ireland and Singapore offered technology neutrality at no extra cost. The government of Bangladesh would benefit from following the examples of global best practice and in doing so, help increase the proliferation of 4G services, which is the true objective of the next round of auctions.

The introduction of 4G/LTE will be a game changer for mobile users in Bangladesh, but the government's proposed fees put this at risk. In order to support the investment necessary to bring 4G to Bangladesh, the government should not levy additional fees for technology neutrality on new or existing licences. This is consistent with the goals of a Digital Bangladesh and is the right thing to do to connect everyone and everything to a better future.

Brett Tarnutzer

Head of Spectrum at GSMA



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