Telcos’ multiple licences to be replaced with one

BTRC publishes draft licensing guidelines

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:00, Aug 27,2019


The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission on Monday published draft licensing guidelines for the mobile phone operators, scrapping provisions regarding requirement for multiple licences for the operators.

Once the guidelines are approved, having a single licence would be enough for the mobile phone operators to operate 2G, 3G and 4G or Long-Term Evolution cellular mobile technologies.

At present, all the mobile phone operators are maintaining seven or eight licences for running the services, resulting in complexities in maintaining files for each of the licences of every operator.

The licences include one for operating as a mobile phone entity, two for running 2G services, two for 3G services and two for 4G services.

‘Due to the evolution in technology and rapid development in cellular mobile phone sector, the government has a view to issue a single licence, not based on specific technology,’ said the draft guidelines the BTRC published seeking public opinions by August 31.

Taking the government’s decision to award technology neutrality to the mobile operators into consideration, it said, ‘Under this circumstance, separate cellular mobile phone operator licences are redundant.’

Therefore, the government has decided to unify all types of cellular mobile phone operator licences as ‘cellular mobile services operator licences’, it said.

However, prior permission would be required from the commission to provide services using technology beyond 4g or LTE, it said.

The unified licence will come into effect from the date of issuance and will remain valid till February 18, 2033, subject to the renewal of spectrum, it said.

However, prior to the issuance of this licence, activities under cellular mobile phone operator licence (renewed), 3G cellular mobile phone services operator licence and 4G or LTE cellular mobile phone services operator licence will remain valid, the draft BTRC guidelines said.

Under the new licence, mobile phone operators would be allowed to provide nine types of services including 2G, 3G, and 4G cellular mobile phone services.

Besides, intra-operator domestic voice and video calls, inter-operator domestic voice and video calls, international long-distance voice and video calls, international roaming services, SMS/ EMS/VMS/MMS, mobile internet, value-added services (VAS) as per TVAS guidelines and any other compatible service as approved by the commission would also be allowed under the unified licence.

Annual licence fee for the single licence has been proposed at Tk 10 crore along with 5.5 per cent revenue sharing and 1 per cent contribution to social obligation fund.

In June last year, the BTRC initiated the move to formulate the guidelines following requests from the mobile phone operators, an official of the commission said.

Apart from the single licensing policy, the commission in the guidelines also inserted the concept of mobile virtual network operator, taking its role in supporting and encouraging an open and competitive market in telecommunications sector into consideration.

The commission, however, said that a detailed framework or guidelines on the MVNO would be prepared by the commission within a fitting time.

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