4G service by December | The Daily Star

Mobile users can prepare for faster 4G services by December if licenses are distributed in November, a minister said.

"Our objective is to organize the auction of spectrum by November and in December, customers will benefit from the fastest data service," Tarana Halim, Telecommunications, at a press conference at his office.

The government hopes to win Tk 11,000 crore from the auction.

Despite the high charges, operators will be able to provide 4G services at low prices, Tarana assured.

The government set a base price of $ 27 million for the megahertz of spectrum in the 2,100 band and $ 30 million per MHz in the 1,800 and 900 bands, according to the guideline approved by the Premier Minister Sheikh Hasina, who heads the Ministry of Telecommunications.

Approximately 25 MHz of spectra in the 2,100, 18 MHz band in the 1.800 band and 3.4 MHz in the 900 band will be available for auction.

However, operators called $ 15 million for each MHz in the three groups.

Tarana said that they had reduced the spectrum price, going against the recommendation of the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission. And before settling the price, they discussed the matter with the operators.

"We have to consider inflation and the price of the previous spectrum to fix the new price," she said.

However, the operators stated that the Telecommunications Division had never sat with them on Guideline 4G and only requested recommendations that had never been addressed. The government will also charge $ 7.5 million for each MHz of the technological neutrality of the spectrum in the bands of 1,800 and 900.

Technological neutrality allows operators to offer any service in any band, which reduces the cost of the activity and improves the quality of service.

From the 3G spectrum auction in 2013, the regulator has earned about 4,000 crak Tkk; a large amount of spectrum remained unsold due to the high price.

In response to a question about the problem, Tarana said, after the planned spectrum auction, the BTRC will issue a directive on the quality of services, which it will adhere strictly. "We will be difficult for operators this time if operators can not meet quality of service objectives – they will be penalized."

The auction in November is a chance for operators to buy an extra spectrum needed to raise their quality of service, she added. The telecommunications secretary Shyam Sunder Sikder and senior BTRC officials were present at the press conference.

Meanwhile, mobile operators have said that 4G will never succeed because many of their concerns have not been addressed in the final version of the directive.

TIM Nurul Kabir, secretary general of the Association of Mobile Telecommunications Operators of Bangladesh, said he hoped the government would return to their concerns and help them launch 4G services according to the road map of "Digital Bangladesh ".

Mobile operators do not consider directives that allow enough. As a result, investors do not find enough commercial and trust potential to make such an important investment, Kabir told The Daily Star yesterday.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the directors general of private mobile operators have written to the state minister to express their concerns about the charges.

The letter was signed by Bangladesh's CEO, Erik Aas, Grameenphone CEO Michael Foley, and Robi's CEO and General Manager Mahtab Uddin Ahmed. Operators will also have to keep usage data for mobile subscribers for 12 years. They have also raised serious concerns about the issue, as this will increase their cost of doing business.

The BTRC will load Tk 10 crore as 4G license fee and Tk 5 crore as annual fee. Operators will have to share 5.5% of their 4G revenue with the government and transfer 1% to the social obligation fund.

Meanwhile, Tarana yesterday called a meeting with mobile operators Sunday to discuss their concerns, said a senior official of the telecommunications division. "The Prime Minister has already approved the guideline – can a minister of the state now change the guideline? Then what will be the ultimate meaning of this meeting," said a senior official mobile operator.

Tarana said she will not change fees nor charges but she can discuss how the service can be launched and how the government can help operators to mitigate any other issues that may arise occur.

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