Country's second largest mobile network operator Robi is set to sell off all its towers with an aim to increase tower sharing among the operators and optimise investment.
Robi is going to sell its towers to one of the four existing tower management companies in the country.
Industry insiders, on condition of anonymity, told The Business Standard that discussions with relevant parties have seen significant progress in this regard and a deal may be inked anytime soon.
Robi currently owns 2,470 towers.
In 2015, the operator sold 5,258 towers to edotco Bangladesh Co Ltd for $250 million.
Another big player in the country's telecom industry, Banglalink, is considering going down the same path and selling off some 8,000 towers it currently owns in a bid to focus more on its core businesses.
Stakeholders believe that once done, this move will open up tower-sharing opportunities among the telecom operators in Bangladesh and help reduce maintenance costs and create a one-off revenue opportunity for them.
Refusing to comment directly on this matter, Shahed Alam, chief corporate and regulatory officer for Robi, said, "Given the state of the maturity of the telecom sector, sharing towers among the operators is the best solution to optimising an operator's investment.
"With greater efficiency in tower management, we can easily bring down the number of towers in the country as per the tower-sharing policy. Robi has long been taking a lead in this regard in the industry. We are very much ready and willing to scale up tower-sharing to power our digital vision."
In 2007, the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) introduced a policy for sharing towers aiming at increasing tower infrastructure sharing among the mobile network operators.
The policy intended to reduce the number of additional towers, ensure optimised use of scarce land resources and reduce pressure on power demand.
In view of the reluctance of the mobile network operators in this regard, the telecom regulator went on to issue licences to four companies to manage and operate all the mobile towers.
The move was intended at stopping the mobile network operators from building mobile towers in the same area to make sure the objectives of the tower-sharing policy are duly met.
Despite the policy push, however, only 4,148 or 16% of all the mobile towers in the country are currently being shared among the operators.
Robi is leading the way in the industry by sharing 30% of its existing towers with other companies.
Meanwhile, Grameenphone (GP) and Banglalink share only 17%-19% of their towers with other operators.
Of the total 36,866 existing mobile towers across the country, mobile companies own 24,425. Mobile network operators have been managing towers since 1997.
To put things into perspective, management company edotco currently owns 8,500 towers, AB Hi Tech owns 250, and Summit owns 100 towers.
The fourth company, Kirtonkhola, does not own a tower yet.
Stakeholders think the selling of Robi's towers will provide a lifeline to the struggling tower management companies.