Bangladesh operators bid $1.2B on 5G spectrum

Bangladesh operators bid $1.2B on 5G spectrum

Bangladesh’s latest round of spectrum auctions has raised BDT106.4 billion (US$1.2 billion) as operators look to shore up their 4G offerings and lay the groundwork for 5G.

Ten 10MHz blocks of spectrum in the 2.3GHz band were available for bidding, alongside twelve 10MHz blocks in the 2.6GHz band. The licences are valid for 15 years, with operators to pay off the fee in instalments over the next nine years, subject to paying off 10% within the next 60 days.

Business Standard reported that Grameenphone and Robi Axiata each paid around BDT33.6 billion to acquire 60MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum – the maximum permitted holding in the band. Banglalink and state operator Teletalk meanwhile focused on the 2.3GHz band, with the former acquired 40MHz for BDT22.4 billion and the latter obtaining a 30MHz holding for BDT16.8 billion.

Following the auction, Grameenphone now holds a total of 107.4MHz of spectrum. Robi Axiata’s total holding is just lower at 104MHz, while Banglalink has 80MHz in total and Teletalk 55.2MHz. Around 30MHz of spectrum failed to sell.

Grameenphone CEO Yasir Azman said: "Further strengthening customer experience and improving our quality of service are important priorities for us. As we roll out the new spectrum, customers will enjoy improved 4G experience."

Azman added that cooperation between operators and the Bangladeshi government would help to develop use cases for 5G services as service providers prepare to trial the technology. Teletalk launched the country’s first 5G trial in December 2021 in partnership with Nokia.

However, 4G will remain a key technology in Bangladesh, with Banglalink CEO Erik Aas telling Business Standard: “the availability of more spectrum will result in better internet speed and quality digital services for citizens of Bangladesh. In keeping with our objective - 4G for all, not 5G for a few - we intend to utilise the new spectrum primarily for 4G in next 2-3 years.”

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