Bangladesh Caries out Long Delayed 3G License Auction

Bangladesh’s long delayed 3G license auction finally got under way with four mobile networks bidding for the available radio spectrum.

By the end of bidding, the government had raised US$525 million from the mobile networks, and can expect to end up with US$735 million once the state-owned network’s contribution is included.

The largest mobile network, Grameenphone bid US$210 million for 10 MHz of spectrum.   The other three bidders, Banglalink, Robi and Airtel each paid US$105 million for 5 MHz of spectrum each whereas, Citycell was refused permission to enter the auction after it missed the deadline to pay a deposit to the regulator.

The state-owned Teletalk will have to pay $210 million for the 10 MHz of spectrum it was allocated last year — matching the rates paid by the private networks.

However, the auction has been seen as a bit of a disappointment, as the government was left with 15 MHz of spectrum unsold at the end of the process. The regulator, the BTRC said that it will decide later what it will do with that unallocated block.

There had been hopes that the auction would raise over US$1 billion for the government if the networks competed furiously for the spectrum, which in the end they did not.

The ongoing tax disputes and the regulatory uncertainty may have acted as a damper on their willingness to bid high for spectrum that could be worth less in the future if the regulatory regime continues to remain hostile.

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