The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) yesterday awarded the country’s four largest private sector cellcos – GrameenPhone, Banglalink, Robi Axiata and Airtel Bangladesh – 3G UMTS (2100MHz/1900MHz) licences, raising BDT40.8 billion (USD525 million) for government coffers via the sale of 2×25MHz of spectrum. The licences may also be used for the rollout of 4G services. The minimum bid price was set at USD20 million per (paired) 1MHz, and 2G market leader GrameenPhone was the sole bidder in the first round, buying a 2×10MHz concession at USD21 million per MHz, followed by Banglalink, Robi and Airtel each purchasing 2×5MHz licences in a second round, also at USD21 million per MHz. This price sets the rate that state-owned Teletalk will now have to pay for its 3G 2100MHz spectrum, after being permitted a head start in the market when it launched its W-CDMA network in October 2012, and it is expected to pay USD210 million for a 2×10MHz licence. Each concession has an initial duration of 15 years (renewable for five years thereafter).
2×15MHz of spectrum worth an additional USD315 million remains unsold following the auction, but BTRC chairman Sunil Kanti Bose, quoted by local press, said a decision would be reached at a later date on what to do with the three unsold 2×5MHz blocks. As reported previously by CommsUpdate, although CDMA operator CityCell did not take part in the 3G auction, the regulator indicated that there was a possibility it would have a chance to purchase spare spectrum at a later date.