2.6 MHz spectrum allocation to BWA operators risks mobile operators` investment: GSMA

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GSMA-logo-webTelecom News: Global organisation of the mobile phone operators-GSM Association urged the Bangladesh government to reconsider its decision about the changing of Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) guideline, which facilitated the WiMAX operator for LTE service.

“As a result of the decision, the investment of the mobile phone operators will be hampered and they will lose their confidence about the market,” the organisation thinks.

It mentioned that allocation of 2.6 MHz spectrum to the BWA operators without proper consultation is the threat for the investment of the mobile operators.

The GSMA stated this at a letter issued to the telecom ministry recently.

The GSMA requested the Bangladesh government to consult with all industry stakeholders for the best way forward to generate the greatest socio-economic benefits from the use of high frequency capacity spectrum.

The letter signed by Head of Spectrum, GSMA John Giusti noted that 2.6 MHz band is used for mobile data service as International Telecommunication Union (ITU) identified the band as an extension band for 4G/LTE mobile service due to its wide bandwidth and high capacity.

The organisation also mentioned that as data demand grows exponentially on a global scale, spectrum bands such as the 2.6MHz are important for mobile operators in meeting longer-term consumer demand for data. It gave example that Asian countries including Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore have already lunched 4G service commercially using 2.6 MHz band.

The letter of the GSMA pointed out that mobile operators have invested heavily in the Bangladeshi market and continuing to invest to extend coverage, improve speed and quality of services. As per their strong commitment, the operators did additional investment by joining bidding process of 2.1 MHz band for 3G network.

However, the allocation of 2.6 MHz band to BWA operators will bring discriminatory result between competitive players in adjacent national data services markets, giving BWA licensees unfair advantages in deploying LTE networks.

“Such competition risks distorting the Bangladesh market and threatens future return on investment for all mobile and other operators. A level playing field is paramount to attracting the long-term capital investment for mobile broadband in any market,” the organization added.

As a result of BWA guideline amendment, new operator Bangladesh Internet Exchange Ltd (BIEL), brand name Ollo got BWA licence for broadband internet service with allocation of 2.6 MHz band spectrum.

Besides, another two WiMAX operators –Banglalion and Qubee- are giving broadband internet service by taking licence from the BTRC in 2008 for 15 years at a cost Tk2.15billion.

In October last, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) amended the guideline for invitation of proposals/offers for issuing BWA license.
The change in Clause No 8.17 mentioned that “Due to limitation of WiMAX technology, the licensee (s) is authorized to develop and operate a broadband network to provide nationwide BWA service based on international standard”.

Another Clause No 10.03 mentioned that “To facilitate the existing licensee (s) to be able to replace/expand their assign spectrum and /or to facilitate the introduction of new licensee (s), the commission is authorized to allocate necessary spectrum in suitable band for the technology selected following clause 8.17”.

Besides, the clause 11.03, which is the BWA licensees shall not eligible to hold additional ISP license, has been deleted in the amendment.

Telecom Bangla

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