Dhaka, Aug 7 (bdnews24.com)—After nine months of squabbling, the government has finally renewed the 2G licence of four telecom operators for 15 years.
Posts and Telecommunication Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju handed the renewed licences to Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and Citycell on Tuesday afternoon at the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission office.
The four companies are paying around Tk 75.63 billion in fees for the renewal.
Grameenphone CEO Tore Johnson, Robi CEO Michael Kuehner, Banglalink's Chief Technical Officer Ahmed Fady, Citycell CEO Mehboob Chowdhury and BTRC Chairman Zia Ahmed and other senior officials of the Commission were present on the occasion.
The Telecom Minister said the day would mark a new level of friendship between the regulator and the operators. Future disagreements between operators and the regulator should be resolved through discussion, he said.
The minister said there would be new investments in the telecom sector and BTRC must take initiatives. He called upon all operators to start 3G services.
Hasanul Haque Inu MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Telecom Ministry, said, "The renewal proves that Bangladesh is a good place for foreign investment. More initiatives must be taken to bring in further foreign investment in this sector."
Citycell CEO Mehboob Chowdhury said he hoped that Citycell would continue the new journey that began with the renewal.
"For BTRC and the operators to work together they must earn each other's trust and work transparently," he said.
Robi CEO Michael Kuehner exhorted the share holders of the sector to continue with their investment for sustained development of the industry as well as improving the economic condition of the country. He said this auspicious moment would be a testimony in the history of the country's telecommunication sectors.
Banglink acting CEO Ahmed Fady said Banglalink had introudced a new era in the country to make mobile phone service affordable to common people.
He hoped that the regulator and operators would work hand in hand for the development of the telecom industry.
GP CEO Tore Johnson said that Grameenphone was working to provide better solutions for users and support the country in developing its socio-economic condition.
He said there would be new challenges in the coming days as the regulator was going to introduce 3G service in a short time.
BTRC Chairman Zia Ahmed said the regulator's target for the future would be to ensure the quality of service and introduce new services.
"The operators must be given credit for bringing telecom network to the entire country. They have created employment for 1.5 million people," he said.
Ahmed expressed hope that the operators would continue to extend and enhance their services.
After a stand-off with BTRC for more than nine months, the telecom regulator on Aug 1 sent letters to the four mobile-phone operators asking them to send their representatives to get their 2G licences renewed on Aug 7 for the next 15 years, upon receiving a letter from the telecom ministry.
The ministry in its letter asked BTRC to issue licences to the operators within a week after settling issues with the operators, and sign a tripartite agreement with the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and the operators.
On Sept 11 last year, the watchdog had published final guidelines on renewing the licences, two months before 2G licences of the four operators expired.
BTRC was supposed to renew the licences by Nov 10, but it did not, and the operators took the issue to the High Court which is yet to give its ruling on the matter.
According to BTRC, over 90 million people are currently using mobile phones across the country. The services are provided by five GSM operators, one of which is state-owned, and a CDMA operator.