Dhaka: Bangladesh sold third generation mobile phone spectrum to four of the country’s mobile telephone operators for a total of $525 million at a much-awaited auction on Sunday, the telecoms regulator said.
Top operator Grameenphone, which is majority owned by Norway’s Telenor, won the auction to acquire 10 megahertz of spectrum for $210 million.
Egyptian Orascom Telecom’s Banglalink, Robi, a joint venture between Malaysia’s Axiata Group and Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, and Airtel, majority owned by India’s Bharti Airtel, won bids for 5 megahertz of spectrum each at a price of $105 million.
The upgrade to a faster 3G network was needed to widen Internet access in Bangladesh, one of the world’s fastest-growing telecoms markets, said Sunil Kanti Bose, chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.
The operators have to pay 60% of the total price of spectrum as the first instalment within a month and the balance within the next three months, he said.
State-owned mobile operator Teletalk last year launched the 3G service on a test basis. Teletalk will have to pay $210 million for 10 megahertz.
Another operator, Citycell, a joint venture between Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited and Singapore Telecommunications , was out of the auction after failing to deposit the $20 million earnest money.
The country’s six mobile phone operators have a total of 107 million users while internet services lag far behind with nearly 40,000 subscribers.