The government has planned to hold spectrum auction for the 5G (fifth-generation) allotment among mobile phone operators in December this year as per its pledge of the Election Manifesto of 2018.
"The auction of 5G will be held in December this year as the government has promised to launch the service across the country by 2021," said a source of the spectrum department of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
This decision was taken at a meeting of the BTRC held at its office recently.
After the meeting, Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mostafa Jabbar also confirmed that the 5G service will be launched across the country within this year as per the government's election pledge.
The spectrum department of BTRC has already allotted 60MHz spectrum to Teletalk, a state-owned telecom company, on a refundable condition to launch 5G service as per the directive of the government.
"Teletalk has been permitted to launch experimental 40-60 MHz spectrum of 5G in Dhaka city," said a BTRC source.
He said Teletalk applied for the allotment of 100MHz spectrum as per the direction of the ministry but the commission allotted it 60MHz as it failed to provide enough documents.
Before that, Bangladesh Police was allotted 3370-3400 MHz band but they have not installed any radio equipment.
On March 8, 2021, Grameenphone, Robi and Banglalink spent $898.2 million to secure spectrum in the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands to expand their limited 4G holdings as demand for data services soars.
BRTC auctioned four 5MHz blocks in the 2100MHz band and 7.4MHz of the 1800MHz spectrum.
According to BRTC, Grameenphone spent $391.8 million on 10MHz of 2100MHz and 0.4MHz of 1800MHz airwaves, bringing its total holdings to 47.4MHz, 20MHz of which is in the 2100MHz band.
Robi Axiata acquired 5MHz of 2100MHz and 2.6MHz of 1800MHz band for $225.6 million, while Banglalink bought 5MHz of 2100MHz and 4.4MHz of 1800MHz for $281.4 million: they each now have 15MHz of 2100MHz spectrum.
The spectrum licenses have 15-year terms.
Earlier in February 2018, BTRC awarded spectrum for fourth-generation (4G) services as part of the government's plan to expedite the launch of 4G mobile services.
The government earned about $637 million as revenue from the new 4G spectrum allocation and tech neutrality fees from Grameenphone, Banglalink and Robi, and NTT DoCoMo Inc. (Japan) in the last auction.
There is an allegation that the country's mobile network operators are not using adequate spectrum to cover their customer base that has been on rise.
Mobile operators have one of the lowest allocated spectra against users.
For each megahertz (MHz) spectrum, there are 1,200,000 mobile phone users in the country, but each MHz spectrum is used by 300,000 in Nepal, which is geographically as big as Bangladesh.
In Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, 100,000 to 400,000 users share one MHz of spectrum, according to the telecom stakeholders' data disclosed a year ago.