No entity has so far expressed interest to get licence to become a tower company operator, a senior official of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission told New Age.
On April 1, 2018, the BTRC invited proposals from the competent entities by May 13 to award four tower sharing company licences.
The telecom regulatory body, however, on May 10 extended the deadline by one month at the eleventh hour.
The aim of issuing two tower sharing company licences is to ensure optimal use of resources by separating the ownership of mobile phone towers from mobile phone operators.
The BTRC official said that the commission made the extension following pleas from a number of companies including a Summit-associate entity.
Along with Summit, a couple of multinational companies, who came to know the issue later, requested the commission in this regard with a view to understanding the overall tower sharing licencing guidelines and to complete the requirements to apply for the licence, he said.
Speaking about the non-submission of bids for licence within the first deadline, May 13, he said, ‘We had conveyed the message of time extension to the potential applicants last week. That’s why the potential entities refrained from submitting proposals.’
The BTRC official also informed that 13 entities had so far purchased tower sharing guidelines from the commission, a reflection of the entities’ interest regarding two tower sharing licences.
As per the BTRC guidelines, an interested entity must be a joint venture company with a Bangladeshi partner, while the foreign partner/partners will have to limit their shareholding in the entity within 70 per cent.
Having minimum three years of experience in successful tower sharing business along with operation of at least 5,000 towers has also been made mandatory to be eligible for the licence.
On the other hand, mobile phone operators or broadband wireless access operators are not eligible to get the licence.
However, the applicant holding share in mobile phone and BWA operator in Bangladesh will have to transfer the shares concerned of the said entity before awarding the licence.
Another official of the commission said that they were considering two companies — US-based global tower company ATC (American Tower Corporation) and edotco Bangladesh— as positional for the two tower sharing licences.
edotco is a Malaysian company and a sister concern of Axiatia Group, the parent company of mobile operator Robi.