With the 3G spectrum auction set for Sunday next, four mobile operators of the country have started their preparations to launch the next generation of (third generation) mobile services.
Several high officials at different operators said they were excited about the auction and every one of them was preparing to launch3G within this calendar year.
One out of four private operators confirmed the Dhaka Tribune, they will launch 3G services within a month of getting the permission. The operator in question even sought Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission’s (BTRC) permission recently, for piloting its 3G services, but the regulator denied.
Officials at a transmission company informed, Grameenphone, the market leader has brought a third of their total sites in the capital under fibre connectivity, which were previously connected through micro web.
“If we get the licence, we will try to be the first to offer 3G services to our customers. We believe in evolutionary development in telecom sector,” said Vivek Sood, CEO of Grameenphone.
He said, they have upgraded their network to adopt 3G technology, but it will take more work to actually deploy the service.
In the meantime, Robi is preparing for the capital first and Airtel has reached agreements with a transmission company last week, over its network infrastructure development.
However, Banglalink has just started negotiations over upgrading their network with fibre connectivity, despite signing a deal worth $300m with Huawei in July.
“We are excited about the 3G auction and are fully prepared for it,” Ziad Shatara, CEO of Banglalink, the second largest operator in the country, told the Dhaka Tribune on Friday.
He said, “We are preparing ourselves for launching 3G services and surprise our subscribers. That’s why we would not like to mention the date at this moment, but it will come very soon.”
“Banglalink subscribers will feel the difference,” he said.
At this moment, the operators are only thinking about 3G, not LTE. “Though the regulator is going to give us the permission, but it will be very challenging at this moment as LTE handsets are not available here.” the Banglalink CEO said.
Robi, the third largest operator, said they would launch the 3G service within a few months of availing the licence.
“It will take three to five months to launch 3G mobile phone services,” said Michael Kuehner, CEO of Robi at a press conference on Monday.
“There will not be much fight in the market for 3G spectrum, which is good for us, but it also needs to be mentioned that the base price of the spectrum is very high,” he said.
At the spectrum auction, the BTRC will award four licences, with the same number of players in the market. The spectrum’s base price has been fixed at $20m per megahertz (MHz).
Airtel, the fourth player of the market, however, did not make any official comments on 3G, after several attempts. But Airtel sources said, they are also taking preparations, in and outside the country.
In India, Airtel has ordered a handset manufacturer to assemble smartphones at 3,000 rupees only.
Earlier, Teletalk launched the 3G services with a commercial test run on 14 October 2012.
Md Muzibor Rahaman, Managing Director of Teletalk, informed the Dhaka Tribune recently that they have some special plans on 3G, which will be formally launched a day after the auction on September 9.
Teletalk, as an incumbent operator will get the licence with 10MHz spectrum according to the guideline. Currently, Teletalk is running 3G only in six districts including Dhaka, Narayanganj, Gazipur, Chittagong, Sylhet and Cox’s Bazar.