Mobile phone operators, including state-run Teletalk and now out-of-service Citycell, will be applying for 4G licence within the deadline at noon today as the government plans to hold the spectrum auction on February 13.
A top official of Citycell, which stopped providing service in October last year, confirmed it yesterday, saying they are preparing to re-enter the telecommunication business.
Senior officials of Teletalk and the remaining three private operators also informed of their preparations.
Though the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has put a provision in the 4G guideline to facilitate participation of new entities to deliver the fastest data service, there is no new prospective candidate, said Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of the telecom regulator.
“A few months ago two players came to us and showed interest, but afterwards there has been no contact till last Thursday,” he said.
The BTRC has decided to arrange a mock auction on February 12 before organising the actual public sale. The names of the licence and spectrum winners will be made public on February 14, according to the regulator's advertisement.
Meanwhile, the BTRC acted fast on Thursday to get a stay order from Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, chamber judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.
Earlier on the day, the High Court had ordered to halt the 4G licencing proceedings after a wi-max operator filed a writ.
“As the Supreme Court has stayed the order everything now will move as per previous decisions,” said Mahmood.
Market sources said the private mobile phone operators are prepared to launch the 4G service and currently working on converting the SIM cards accordingly and developing the ecosystem.
According to the BTRC guideline, operators will have to pay an application processing fee of Tk 5 lakh, a licence fee of Tk 10 crore and an annual fee of Tk 5 crore for the 15-year licencing tenure.
It also stipulates that the 4G network must be deployed across the country in three years.
In the auction, the BTRC will give away 25 MHz in 2,100 MHz band with a floor price of $27 million per MHz. It will also put up for sale 18 MHz in the 1,800 MHz band and 3.4 MHz in the 900 MHz band, both starting off with $30 million per MHz.
Operators will have to pay separately for technological neutrality if they want to offer services through any technology (2G/3G/4G/LTE) using any of the frequencies they get.
Though the guideline has been amended twice, the private mobile operators still have some worries about unresolved issues concerning value added tax, fibre optic network and mandatory speed of 20 mbps under the fastest technology.
The BTRC last arranged an auction for 3G spectrum in 2013 and the operators immediately rolled out the service.