• Friday, Apr 16, 2021
  • Last Update : 10:22 pm

Grameenphone snaps up most spectrum in auction

  • Published at 12:47 am March 9th, 2021
Spectrum auction 2021

Banglalink came in second

Grameenphone, the country's leading mobile network operator, snapped up the highest amount of spectrum at the auction on Monday, dishing out a whopping $391.15 million to enhance its service quality and further consolidate its position.

After a gruelling 12-hour bidding war, the operator got 0.4 MHz at $31 million per MHz from the 1,800 MHz band, 5MHz at $29 million per MHz and 5MHz at $46.75 million per MHz, both from the 2,100 MHz band.

After this allocation, its current spectrum in the 1,800 MHz band increased from 19.6 MHz to 20.0 MHz, and in the 2100 MHz band from 10 MHz to 20 MHz, taking its total tally to 47.4  MHz - counting its previous 7.4 MHz in stock from the 900 MHz band.

The highlight of the auction was a seven hour-long bidding war between Grameenphone and Robi to grab spectrum from Block-9, when countless rounds followed as both the operators kept on increasing their bids, which finally went to Grameenphone with its bid of $46.75 million for 5 MHz

Multiple tugs-of-war took place at the auction that began in the morning and went on until 9:00 pm.

Despite their last-minute announcement to take part in the auction, state-owned Teletalk could not muster enough mettle to stir the pot in their favour.

Banglalink stood second in acquiring most spectrum from the auction, purchasing 9.4 MHz from the two bands -- 4.4 MHz in the 1,800 MHz band at $31 million per MHz and 5 MHz at $29 million per MHz from the 2,100 MHz.

“The spectrum we are acquiring will also help us capitalise on our success and increase customer satisfaction further," said Erik Aas, chief executive officer of Banglalink.

The newly-acquired spectrum will help Banglalink retain the top position among the private operators in Bangladesh in terms of the amount of spectrum provided per subscriber. 

Its spectrum has now increased to 20 MHz from 15.6 MHz in the 1,800 MHz band and 15 MHz from 10 MHz in 2,100 MHz. Its total spectrum is now 40 MHz, including 5 MHz from its 900 MHz band.

Robi, the second-largest operator, received 7.6 MHz from the auction -- 2.6 MHz from the 1,800 MHz band at $31 million per MHz and 5 MHz from the 2,100 MHz band for $29 million per MHz.

This takes their 1,800 MHz band tally from 17.4 MHz to 20.0 MHz and from 10 MHz to 15 MHz in the 2,100 MHz band. Its total spectrum is now 44 MHz, including the 9 MHz it already possesses from the 900 MHz band.

Teletalk participated amid a highly competitive auction for the 2,100 MHz spectrum but ultimately ended up with no new acquisition, maintaining their tally at 25.2 MHz.

It has 5.2 MHz from 900 MHz band, 10 MHz band from the 1,800 MHz band and 10 MHz from the 2,100 MHz band.

Spectrum from the 2,100 MHz, a band used for 4G connectivity, was where all the operators had an immense interest, and they toiled to grab whatever they could get in the auction.

The base price for this year's auction is based on the sale price of the 2018 auction with the prior approval of the government. 

The price for 1 MHz spectrum on the 1,800 MHz band is $31 million for 15 years and the 2,100 MHz band $27 million for 15 years.

The spectrum allocation letter will be issued temporarily for a period of 5.59 years from the date of allotment by adding VAT and 25 per cent of the total charges will have to be paid in advance by March 22, 2021.

The remaining 75 per cent charge at the rate of 15 per cent per annum has to be paid within five years in five instalments from the date of issuance of spectrum allotment.

The auction offered a total of 27.4 MHz (7.4 MHz in the 1,800 MHz band and 20 MHz in the 2,100 MHz band). The income of the government including VAT will be around Tk 3,000 crore, according to the Bangladesh Telecommunication and Regulatory Commission.

Operators will be able to provide service on the allocated wave from April 9 later this year. The BTRC hopes that allocating spectrum will increase the quality of mobile telecommunications.

Posts and Telecom Minister Mustafa Jabbar said that the auction was competitive and the revenue generated from it will be more than what they had expected.

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