BTRC won’t consider operators’ fresh concerns about 4G guidelines

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:05, Dec 06,2017 | Updated: 01:05, Dec 06,2017

 
 

A file photo shows a signboard of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission installed outside its office in Dhaka. BTRC will not consider the fresh concerns raised by mobile phone operators about the 4G guidelines as all the proposals of the operators had already been acknowledged by the government in the finalised guidelines, said its chairman on Tuesday. — New Age photo

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission will not consider the fresh concerns raised by mobile phone operators about the 4G guidelines as all the proposals of the operators had already been acknowledged by the government in the finalised guidelines, said its chairman on Tuesday. 
Mobile network operators on Monday raised fresh concerns over the licencing guidelines on fourth generation (4G) mobile phone service and spectrum auction.
The concerns of the operators include : lowering spectrum price and conversion fees of existing spectrum, opposing the minimum 20 megabyte internet speed for 4G service and allowing mobile operators to build their own fiber network.
Top officials of three mobile phone operators—Grameenphone chief executive officer Michael Foley, Robi managing director and CEO Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, and Banglalink MD and CEO Erik Aas— signed the letter that was submitted to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission on Monday, the same day of inviting applications for 4G licence and participation in the spectrum auction.
Asked about BTRC’s stance regarding the operators’ fresh concerns, BTRC chairman Shahjahan Mahmood, however, told New Age, ‘We have already considered all the concerns of the operators in the finalised guidelines.’
‘Now, there is no scope of taking any fresh issues into consideration in the guidelines,’ he said.
The commission, however, at the same time informed the operators that it would give written reply over their newly raised concerns, the BTRC chairman said.
Stating that the draft guideline was yet to be shared with them before finalisation, operators in the letter stated that it would be immensely difficult to recommend to their shareholders to acquire a licence or participate in an auction without a thorough consultation process on the guidelines.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasian in November approved the revised guidelines on 4G service after the draft guideline was revised based on consultation meeting with the operators on October 23, addressing all the concerns of the operators.
Operators also opposed the base price for spectrum auction stating that the price was unaffordable, while spectrum conversion fees were also opposed by them.
Government lowered spectrum conversation fees to $ 4 million for conversion of spectrum at one go and $ 7.5 million for converting spectrum partially.
At first, spectrum conversion fee was proposed at $ 10 million which was lowered later to $ 7.50 million.
The base prices of per megahertz spectrum in 1800 MHz and 900 MHz were set at $30 million, while per MHz spectrum in 2100 MHz was set at $27 million.
Operators’ letter regretted setting 20 Mbps as minimum speed for 4G service pointing out that the
spectrum available for auction was not even sufficient to provide the speed.
Meanwhile, top officials of the mobile phone operators also held a meeting with the state minister for posts and telecommunications Tarana Halim over the issue on Tuesday.
Considering the importance of fiber network in providing quality service, operators sought permission from the government to build their own fiber network before launching of the 4G and spectrum auction.
Resolution of VAT issue and Methodology of calculating contribution factor were among the concerns of the operators.
In the revised guidelines on 4G, government, among others, lowered mandatory data storage provision from 12 years to 2 year while operators ‘revenue sharing with the government was also reduced to 5.5 per cent which was 15 per cent initially. 

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