The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is slashing 4G licensing fees by a third on government advice, ahead of the 4G spectrum auction expected this September, the Daily Star reports. The licence acquisition fee is dropping to BDT100 million (USD1.22 million) whilst the annual licence fee falls to BDT50 million following a meeting with the Prime Minister’s ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy. A decision was also taken to lift restrictions on the source of funding for the licence auction: the BTRC had earlier recommended making it mandatory to ensure all investment was in foreign currency. The report adds that the spectrum conversion fee for technology neutrality in the existing 900MHz and 1800MHz allocated bands will also be brought down to USD7.5 million per MHz from USD10 million, whilst the BTRC had earlier amended another of its recommendations following Joy’s advice, reducing 4G licensees’ revenue sharing portion with the regulator to 5.5% from 15%. The latest amended guidelines have been forwarded to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who also heads the telecom ministry. Tarana Halim, state minister for telecom, was quoted as saying: ‘Hopefully, we will be able to award the licence by mid September.’
Elsewhere in the Bangladesh mobile sector, the final stage of the merger between Robi Axiata and Airtel Bangladesh – the merging of operating/spectrum licences – has received approval from the BTRC. Airtel Bangladesh merged into Robi Axiata in November 2016, and the enlarged group has been integrating its networks across the country throughout 2017.