Four firms deposit Tk 100cr as fees for tower licences

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Four companies selected to be awarded with telecom tower licences handed over a total of Tk 100 crore as fees along with bank guarantees worth Tk 80 crore to the telecom regulator on Tuesday.

The licences will be awarded to edotco Bangladesh, TASC Summit Towers, Kirtonkhola Tower and AB Hightech Consortium by next week, said Md Jahurul Haque, acting chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).

The licensees will be able to build, maintain and rent out the towers to mobile operators, internet service providers and WiMAX operators, he said.

The licences—the annual fee for each of which will be Tk 5 crore—will initially be given for 15 years with the option of an extension for five more years, he said.

The licence holders will have to share 5.5 percent of their revenue with the government and another 1 percent with the “social obligation fund” from the second year of operation, he said. The government formed the social obligation fund in 2011 for the development of the telecom sector.At present, four mobile operators own over 30,000 towers across the country, said Haque.

“All the telecom towers will gradually be taken over by the tower companies. And from now on, mobile operators will not be allowed to build any new tower.”

According to the guideline of BTRC, no mobile company can hold stakes in any tower company.

To comply with the rule, edotco Bangladesh has already completed transferring ownership of its 20 percent stake—previously held by Robi Axiata—to edotco Group.

“We have been working closely with Robi and our local partners to ensure a smooth transition,” said Suresh Sidhu, CEO of edotco Group.

“We are confident we will be able to fulfil all the conditions within the timeframe and are looking forward to receiving the complete licence.”

Now, the small operators will have a fair chance to expand their network across the country without making new investments to establish their own towers, said Haque.

All the tower licence holders are joint ventures.

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