BTRC gives Robi go-ahead on 900 & 1800 MHz tech neutrality

The telecom regulator yesterday gave Robi the go-ahead for tech neutrality as the country's first mobile operator in 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands, as part of plans to boost telecom service quality.

BTRC expects to earn over $100 million by offering tech neutrality to the operators, except for Teletalk and Citycell, said Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of BTRC.

In December, the regulator set February 20 as the deadline to apply for tech neutrality in the two bands. Of the five operators, Robi has so far applied for tech neutrality.

With tech neutrality, the operators would be able to offer services through any technology—2G/3G/4G/LTE—by using any of the frequencies they have.

On Sunday, Robi will pay Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission around $40 million as fees to use its 25.4 megahertz spectrum, which it was using only for 2G services. To enjoy the tech benefit, market leader Grameenphone has to pay $47 million for 22 MHz spectrum, Banglalink $32 million for 15 MHz and Teletalk $32 million.

A Grameenphone official said they will apply next week. Citycell, which went out of service in October 2016, will have to pay $14 million for tech neutrality if it gets 4G licence.

Technological neutrality will definitely help in improving telecom service quality, reducing call drops and improving call success rates, Mahmood said.

“If Citycell and Teletalk join the party, BTRC will earn another Tk 500 crore from tech neutrality.” BTRC also hopes collecting another few thousand crore taka by organising spectrum auction, said an official of the telecom regulator.

In the auction, the BTRC will give away 25 MHz in 2100 MHz band with a floor price of $27 million per MHz.

On Wednesday, the BTRC approved the auction procedure where it was mentioned that the operators will have to increase the bid amount by $1 million dollar in every call in the auction. The regulator will also put up for sale 18 MHz in the 1800 MHz band and 3.4 MHz in the 900 MHz band, both starting off with $30 million per MHz.

To attend the auction, every operator will have to deposit Tk 150 crore for each band before February 5. And if any operator wants to attend the auction in three bands, they will have to pay Tk 450 crore within the stipulated date.


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