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BD set to enter 4G era as govt approves guideline

September 15, 2017 00:00:00

Five years after the roll-out of 3G network, Bangladesh is now all set to enter 4G era as the government has approved relevant guideline with spectrum prices, paving the way for the telecom regulator to stage an open auction at its earliest.

Mohamamd Enayet Hossain, spokesman for the Posts and Telecommunications Division, told Xinhua on Thursday that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday approved the guideline for 4G or the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications technology, succeeding 3G.

He said the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will now hold an open auction to distribute spectrum by next two months.

"We are working on it to finalise the date (for auction)," Md Zakir Hossain Khan, senior assistant director of BTRC's Media & Communication, told Xinhua, but did not elaborate further.

In line with the approved guideline, the floor price for each megahertz of spectrum in the 2,100 band has been set at 27 million US dollars and 30 million US dollars in the 900 and 1,800 bands.

Apart from four Bangladeshi cellphone operators, sources said local and foreign companies will also be able to take part in the auction to run 4G technology in the country where the total number of mobile phone subscribers reached 136 million at the end of June with an addition of about 10 million new users in the first six months of this year.

They said currently Grameenphone, the biggest operator in the country, has 14.6 MHz of spectrum in the 1,800 band and 7.4 MHz in the 900 band.

Apart from this, they said the second largest operator Robi has a total of 26.4 MHz of spectrum while the third largest Banglalink 15 MHz and state-owned Teletalk 15.2 MHz in the two bands.

BTRC has now reportedly 15MHz of unsold spectrum in the 2100MHz band, 10.6MHz in the 1800MHz band and some spectrum in the 900MHz band which came from an operator, Airtel, after its merger with Robi.

With the launch of the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications services, officials said mobile users will have access to high-speed 4G Internet through their mobile phones at a relatively lower rate.

The 4G system enhances the services such as multimedia, high speed mobile broadband, internet access with the ability to view video footage on mobile handset.

Experts say the launch of 4G services could further bolster the government's efforts in minimising the "digital divide" in the country which is poorly served by broadband Internet services.

Bangladesh in October 2012 officially entered the next generation of wireless communications. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the long-awaited 3G or third generation mobile services via a state-run cellphone operator Teletalk.

The latest BTRC data showed the number of subscribers of the country's four mobile operators -- Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and Teletalk -- at the end of June 2017 stood at 61.579 million, 31.572 million, 39.570 million and 3.260 million respectively.

According to the BTRC, Bangladesh has now some 70 million mobile internet users, with 35 million of them using 3G enabled handsets.

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