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Bangladesh govt plans rebate on fees for 4G spectrum conversion

It may also ease the condition that binds operators to keep call records for 12 years in the 4G telecom policy, State Minister for Post and Telecommunication Tarana Halim has indicated.

The state minister spoke to about the issues after discussing those at a meeting at the Posts and Telecommunications Division conference room on Thursday.

Prime Minister's ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy, among others, attended the meeting.

Tarana said the operators have raised 24 concerns over 4G.

"These include some small issues that can be resolved through explanation. BTRC has provided the explanations to the telecoms division and we will forward those for the prime minister's approval," she said.

"They have asked that some issues be revisited. Two big issues are spectrum's tech neutrality conversion fee and 12-year period to keep CDR (call detail record). We will consider the CDR period issue after discussing it with the law enforcers," Tarana said.

She said the BTRC will provide a solution to the conversion fee issue after discussing it with the operators. "This will be acceptable to the operators and the government will also benefit from it."

The Prime Minister's Office approved the guidelines for spectrum allocation and 4G licensing last month with a fee of $7.5 million for conversion of 1 megahertz spectrum.

A top BTRC official, requesting anonymity, said the meeting discussed whether the fee can be kept between $3 million and $5 million.

The state minister also said the operators' 'small issues' on the 4G guideline were settled.

"These will be added after discussions with the BTRC and the law-enforcing agencies."

"For example," she said, "The operators raised the issue of taking permission to use their CSR funds. We've told them they will need to only inform the BTRC about using the CSR funds; no permission is needed prior to using the funds."

She added that there will be no concession on 4G rollout obligation and speed. "The BTRC has been asked to fix specific standards. The prime minister’s adviser also asked not to compromise on these two issues," she said.

"The operators won't be able to compromise on the internet speed and quality. We are thinking about cutting fees for conversion of spectrum to technology neutral system if necessary; so that the operators can't say they don't have the spectrum to provide quality service.

"They will be able to convert to any technology if they get tech neutrality. That's why we want all the operators to convert the spectrum to tech neutrality.”

Tarana said the government targets to launch 4G within December this year. "We've fulfilled all our promises. There might have been one or two months of delay."

She added the launch of mobile number portability or MNP is only a 'matter of time' now.

The state minister also said the government would not take any decision that may raise prices of mobile phone services.

"The prime minister’s adviser agreed. We want this sector to grow without any hindrance," she said.