The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has revised the terms and conditions of the auction procedure for Radio Frequency Auction-2021 scheduled to be held on 8 March.
According to revised terms and conditions, the auction conducting committee may not allow a mobile operator to participate in the auction for 2100MHz band if it does not participate in the auction for 1800MHz band.
The regulatory commission made the change, as the demand is more than the available spectrum, the BTRC said in a letter issued on February 25 to the mobile operators.
The total demand for spectrum allocation from 1800MHz band from the country's top three mobile operators is 11.4MHz, while the BTRC is set to auction off only 7.4MHz.
The country's leading mobile operator Grameenphone alone applied for more than 4.8MHz spectrum from this band. That upset the other operators who asked the regulatory authority to put a condition on spectrum allocation.
Engineer AKM Shahiduzzaman, commissioner at the BTRC, said, "We have revised the previous instructions to complete the auction successfully and without any manipulation."
The commission also brought changes in the block-wise bidding process.
The previous instruction was to start the bidding process from Block-1 before proceeding to the bidding of other blocks. But the revised instruction mandated that the bidding should start from Block-4.
According to the spectrum auction guidelines, 7.40MHz spectrum from 1,800MHz band will be auctioned in five blocks and 15MHz spectrum from 2,100MHz band will be auctioned in three blocks.
The commission is going to hold the auction because, it said, the existing spectrum assigned to mobile operators is insufficient to cover the enormous traffic.
A lack of spectrum has been causing disruptions to the services provided, especially in digital communications.
Currently, user occupancy per MHz spectrum in Bangladesh is more than 13lakh. The figure is only two to three lakh in Nepal and Myanmar.
The scenario gets worse for operators with more users. According to the BTRC, Grameenphone has the lowest spectrum coverage for its users. Over 20lakh Grameenphone subscribers are occupying each MHz of spectrum.
The second largest operator, Robi serves 14 lakh subscribers operating in each MHz spectrum, while Banglalink has 11lakh users.
At present, Grameenphone has 37MHz of spectrum, Robi 36.4MHz, Banglalink 30.6MHz, and Teletalk 25.2MHz in three different bands.