The telecoms division of Bangladesh’s Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications & Information Technology (MoPTI) has proposed that the new entity formed by the upcoming merger of cellcos Robi Axiata and Airtel Bangladesh will have to pay more than BDT5 billion (USD62.4 million) in fees for using Airtel’s existing spectrum in the 1800MHz band, the Daily Star reports. The recommendations, which also include additional charges and fees, are currently under the consideration of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (who is also the line minister for telecoms). The newspaper quotes a senior telecom division official who explained that the authorities are seeking additional payments to adjust the value of older spectrum awards in comparison to spectrum issued in 2011. The report adds that the Prime Minister’s Office may inform the High Court of a decision on 2 June.
Airtel’s 1800MHz frequencies were awarded in 2005 for 15 years at a cost equivalent to BDT15.1 million per year, compared to spectrum issued in the band in 2011 to Robi and other operators which cost the equivalent of BDT100 million per year. ‘Now if the merged entity wants to retain this spectrum, it will have to pay the rest to match the price of 2011,’ the unnamed official stated.
Robi and Airtel signed a merger deal on 28 January 2016, which if completed will make the new entity the second largest mobile operator in Bangladesh.