Teletalk launching 3G in July
Bangladesh’s telecoms minister, Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju, announced that state-run GSM mobile operator Teletalk will launch the country’s first W-CDMA/HSPA-based 3G network within the next two months, having missed a previously announced launch date of late-March. The minister revealed the launch target at a meeting with International Telecommunication Union (ITU) deputy secretary-general, Houlin Zhao. Teletalk’s managing director Mujibur Rahman told BDNews24.com that technical preparations for launching the trial 3G service in July are in the ‘final stages’, and explained that delays have occurred due to the company dealing with a new technology. The government was granting Teletalk a six-month exclusivity period to trial 3G ahead of its larger private sector competitors, and the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) subsequently confirmed that Teletalk would be permitted to launch a 3G network trial in the 2100MHz band from 26 March 2012, with no other operator able to launch until late-September. The BTRC sought expressions of bidding interest from 7 May, and will begin receiving formal applications from 12 July, publish the final bidder list on 19 July and hold an open auction on 3 September for four 2100MHz licences, which will allow the deployment of 3G and/or 4G services. In total, five technology-neutral 10MHz concession blocks are earmarked for three privately owned Bangladeshi mobile operators, one potential new foreign entrant, and Teletalk, which will not need to compete in an auction, but will pay for its UMTS spectrum allocation at a cost equal to the highest bid. GlobalComms adds that Teletalk is the smallest player in the Bangladesh cellular market with less than 1.5% of subscribers, while the country’s second-smallest cellco, SingTel-owned CityCell, is the sole provider of a 3G mobile service, based on CDMA2000 1xEV-DO technology, but has struggled to win customers who have increasingly opted for the wireless broadband internet services of WiMAX network operators Banglalion and Qubee. Meanwhile, there is galloping demand for the 2.5G mobile internet services of the GSM operators, led by GrameenPhone.