The telecom regulator is reviewing the options for allocating 700 Megahertz (MHz) spectrum — considered the most valuable at present — for mobile operators.
“We want to make the most out of the in-demand 700 MHz spectrum,” said Zia Ahmed, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
The 700 MHz band will enable service providers to deploy higher-performance mobile broadband services over greater distances than the services they offer today. As a result, the operators will be able to roll out their service network with less equipment or investment for more people, according to analysts.
In line with the suggestions of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN body, Bangladesh will allocate 700 band for fourth generation (4G) mobile technology — Long Term Evolution (LTE) — which provides far more speedy data transfer than 3G technology.
The 700 spectrum band was originally intended for analogue television broadcasting, but the switch to digital broadcasting made the band redundant.
But due to its broadcast-attractive physics — like its ability to penetrate walls — the spectrum has become desirable yet again for broadband communications, particularly mobile broadband.
But the band is not in a usable situation and the regulator is refreshing it.
The BTRC allocated 6 MHz spectrum (6 uplink and downlink each) to AlwaysOn Network Bangladesh Ltd (AlwaysOn), an internet service provider, in July 2006 for five years — at free of cost.
But the segment of the frequency given to AlwaysOn is at such a location that it is impeding the functionality of the rest of the band.
The BTRC has now asked AlwaysOn to report on how they are using the spectrum, to study the options left to the regulator with regards to the band, Ahmed said.
When asked, Reaz Shaheed, managing director of AlwaysOn, said, “We are using the spectrum according to the licence conditions.”
“The commission is now examining if the allocated frequency can be shifted in such a way that it does not interrupt the band,” said the BTRC official.
The official added that the regulator now plans to shift AlwaysOn to the corner of the band with an allocation of 5 MHz frequency (5 uplink and downlink each).
Another BTRC official said the regulator wants to allocate the 700 Mhz airwave, via an auction, for mobile technology.
But due to the delays in the 2G licence renewal and 3G auction, the 700 band auction has been postponed too.
The 2G licence renewals of Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and Citycell were supposed to have been completed by November last year, while the 3G auction should have taken place this year.
“The current situation suggests that the 3G auction would not be possible this year, so the auction for 700 MHz spectrum has been set back further,” said the official.
-With The Daily Star input