BTRC leans on CityCell for overdue fees

27 Nov 2013

Bangladeshi newspaper the Daily Star reports that the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has toughened its stance on CDMA mobile operator CityCell over overdue taxes totalling BDT1.45 billion (USD18.4 million), which includes BDT1.30 billion for the second instalment of the operator’s 2G licence renewal fee, plus annual fees for spectrum and regulatory revenue-share. ‘We gave CityCell an opportunity to clear their dues in instalments but it failed to pay,’ said Sunil Kanti Bose, chairman of the BTRC, adding that failure to pay within 15 days of notice may lead to cancellation of its licence. CityCell is also reportedly struggling to clear its debts to its network equipment supplier, while its lack of funding stopped it carrying out mooted plans to migrate to GSM technology and enter the recent 3G UMTS licence auction. However, the company’s CEO Mehboob Chowdhury was quoted by the Star as saying that CityCell is ‘close to’ receiving fresh funding to ‘turn around its fortunes’. The CDMA provider’s largest shareholder Singapore Telecom (SingTel) stopped injecting funds into its Bangladeshi unit in 2012, and according to its annual report it placed a ‘nil’ value on its ownership stake in CityCell.