Four mobile operators have acquired 190MHz new spectrum at Tk10,645 crore primarily to improve services and implement fifth generation (5G) technology in the future.
The operators acquired the new radio frequency at the latest auction on 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz bands held on Thursday at the Hotel InterContinental.
Among the four mobile operators, Grameenphone and Robi secured the highest of 60MHz each from the auction. Grameenphone, however, holds the top position with 107.4MHz radio frequency.
Grameenphone's Chief Executive Officer, Yasir Azman said, "Through this auction, the government has taken another step towards realising Digital Bangladesh...Grameenphone's acquisition of the maximum allowable 60 MHz spectrum reflects our strong commitment to creating digital possibilities for people across the country.
"Further strengthening customer experience and improving our quality of service are important priorities for us. As we roll out the new spectrum, customers will enjoy improved 4G experience."
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) organised the auction to award 220MHz radio frequency to provide 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G cellular mobile services.
BTRC Engineering and Operations Commissioner Engineer Md Mohiuddin Ahmed presided over the auction which was conducted in two phase by Director of Systems and Services Brig Gen Nasim Parvez, Director General of the Spectrum Division Brig Gen Md Moniruzzaman Jewel, Director Md Sohail Rana and Lt Colonel Md Awal Uddin.
In the first phase, state-owned telecom operator Teletalk and the third largest mobile operator Banglalink secured 30MHz at Tk1,680crore and 40MHz at Tk2,241 crore from 2.3GHz band respectively.
On the other hand, market leader Grameenphone and second largest operator Robi acquired 60 MHz each from 2.6GHz band for about Tk3,360 crore each.
At the end of the first phase of the auction, 30MHz spectrum remained unsold from the 2.3GHz band, which was then re-auctioned in the second phase. Neither Teletalk nor Banglalink showed interest to acquire the spectrum.
Shahed Alam, chief corporate and regulatory officer, Robi Axiata Ltd, said that they believe that the addition of this spectrum network will improve Quality of Services (QoS) significantly.
"The auction proceedings were managed in a very efficient manner ensuring total transparency. We are very happy to have secured 60 MHZ in 2600 MHz spectrum band from the auction today," he said.
As per the auction notice, operators have to pay 10% of the total purchase price within 60 days of the announcement of the final auction results, while the remaining 90% will be paid off in equal instalments over nine years.
In a notice published by the BTRC on 3 March, the regulatory body had instructed all telecom operators to begin test runs for the 5G spectrum within six months of the auction.
Last year, the government earned the highest Tk7,634 crore by assigning a total of 27.4MHz spectrum from 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands.
Which operator owns how much radio frequency
With the latest spectrum acquisition, market leader Grameenphone's accessible radio frequency reached 107.4MHz from 47.4MHz.
Robi Axiata Limited's total accessible frequency reached 104 MHz from 44MHz, Banglalink's from 40MHz to 80MHz and the state-owned Teletalk's from 25.2MHz to 55.2MHz.
Grameenphone's Chief Executive Officer, Yasir Azman said, "4G technology will continue to be the primary technology enabling Bangladesh to reach its full digital potential. In collaboration with the government, we will identify relevant 5G use cases for Bangladesh for trials/tests in the coming months. "
Meanwhile, Banglalink remains the top private operator in the country in terms of spectrum per customer, following the acquisition of 40 MHz new spectrum.
Erik Aas, chief executive officer, Banglalink, said, "We congratulate the BTRC on successfully conducting the spectrum auction. It is an important step for the industry, as the availability of more spectrum will result in better internet speed and quality digital services for citizens of Bangladesh. In keeping with our objective -- 4G for all, not 5G for a few, we intend to utilise the new spectrum primarily for 4G in next 2-3 years."