The telecom regulator will finally hand over the much-awaited 4G licence to Grameenphone, Robi, Banglalink, and Teletalk on February 20, capping off months of back and forth between the government and the mobile operators.
The licence fee for the fourth generation network technology, which promises the fastest data speed from mobile devices, is Tk 10 crore.
All the operators are technically ready to roll out the service, so once they officially get the licences they can offer it to their subscribers, said Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.
The top three operators have completed their preparations for 4G roll-out and have already launched campaigns to drum up excitement for the forthcoming technology.
A good number of customers of Grameenphone, Robi, and Banglalink have converted their SIM cards to 4G-compatible ones, according to market sources.
Meanwhile, the telecom regulator will organise a spectrum auction today in Dhaka Club, where only Banglalink and Grameenphone will participate.
Both the operators yesterday attended a mock spectrum auction at the BTRC office.
Robi, the country's second largest operator, and state-owned Teletalk will sit out the auction. Both the operators deem their existing spectrum to be sufficient for 4G.
As of yesterday, Robi has the highest volume of the spectrum (36.4 megahertz) in three different bands, and the entire spectrum is technologically neutral.
Technology neutrality allows operators to offer either of 2G, 3G or 4G services from any band they see fit, a facility that helps in reducing the operational costs and improving the service quality.
Teletalk has 25.2 MHz spectrum and they are yet to attain tech neutrality, which would cost $4.5 million for each MHz.
Banglalink, the country's third largest operator, has only 20 MHz spectrum and plans to participate in bidding for spectrum on two different bands. It is likely to acquire 5 MHz from the 2,100 band and another 5 MHz from the 1,800 band.
For the 2,100 band, the government fixed $27 million as the floor price for each MHz, and for the 1,800 band, $30 million.
Grameenphone, which has 32 MHz of spectrum in three bands, will only bid for spectrum on the 1,800 band.
BTRC is expecting to collect about Tk 4,000 crore from the auction, said a top official of the regulator. The regulator will also get about Tk 1,000 crore from tech neutrality.
However, in the guideline it was stated that BTRC will earn about Tk 11,000 crore from the process.