Mobile operators Grameenphone and Robi Axiata Limited want implementation of Tech Neutrality before announcing 4G auction to ensure quality of service.
The major market players in the mobile telecommunication industry have made the demand while Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is preparing for 4G auction.
According to mobile operators, technology neutrality would allow mobile operators to use the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands for 3G services. As the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands provide better coverage than 2100 MHz, mobile internet services could be provided more efficiently in rural areas.
Ekram Kabir, vice president, communications and corporate responsibility, Robi Axiata Limited, said spectrum is also one of the basic and key requirements for launching 4G/LTE.
Hence the governmnet should consider spectrum auction and technology neutrality in all existing bands prior to issuing the 4G/LTE License, he said, adding that without compatible mobile devices, consumers will not be able to experience the 4G/LTE.
In summary, the government initiatives will determine whether the country is ready for the quality 4G/LTE.
“First and foremost we would like to see technology neutrality introduced to ensure the quality of services and enhanced customer experience,” said Mahmud Hossain, chief corporate affairs officer, Grameenphone Ltd.
The benefits of technology neutrality are manifold: more efficient use of spectrum, better quality, speed and lower prices. Mobile internet services do not levy any additional charge for introducing technology neutrality. Most EU governments, USA, Canada, Thailand, Pakistan, Malaysia and many other markets are experiencing tech neutrality.
4G is the fourth generation of wireless mobile telecommunication technology, succeeding 3G, as defined by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Since its first commercial launch in 2009, 4G has become the fastest developing system in the history of mobile communication.
However, BTRC is working on to launch 4G in 700 MHz band which is not practically implementable. Even, adoption in 700 MHz band in Europe is very low.
Seeking anonymity, an official of a mobile operator said if the regulator finally announces to launch 4G without technology neutrality in 700 MHz band, the price of data will not be affordable.
Currently, 4G-enabled handset in 700 MHz in the country is only 4% which is a major obstacle to launching fourth generation wireless mobile telecommunication technology.
Most of the frequencies – 900 MHz and 1800 MHz – held by mobile operators are currently limited to be used for 2G.
Only 2100 MHz band has been made technology neutral and is currently being used for 3G services.
The way of improving 3G services and introducing 4G in the country would be to allow technology neutrality in all existing spectrum bands which will give mobile operators flexibility to meet consumer needs and bring Bangladesh on a par with global best practices.
“We welcome the initiative on 4G/LTE and hope that the government will conduct effective consultation with the industry players in formulating 4G/LTE Licensing Guideline keeping in mind the National Telecom Policy objectives,” Ekram Kabir said.
“Like any other players in the market, Robi is ready to adopt and launch new technology. We are continuously investing for further infrastructure readiness. Fiber is the backbone of 4G/LTE and the government needs to adopt policies to allow mobile operators to invest and lay fibers.”
Asif Ahmed, head of corporate communications, Banglalink, said 4G is an integral part of Banglalink’s digital transformation promise.
“We welcome 4G with spectrum neutrality. However, for that to happen, we have requested the regulator to first ensure that spectrum is made available.”
“Another request we have made to the regulator is to enable us to sell our towers which will help us further invest for spectrum and network expansion in Bangladesh.”