4 mobile cos get renewed licencesStaff Correspondent
The government on Tuesday renewed the 2G licence of four mobile phone operators for 15 years although the companies are yet to pay the full fees and charges.
The Minister for Post and Telecommunications, Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju, handed over the renewed licences to Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and CityCell on Tuesday afternoon in the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission’s office.
Grameenphone’s chief executive officer Tore Johnson, Robi’s CEO Michael Kuehner, Banglalink’s chief technical officer Ahmed Fady and CityCell’s CEO Mehboob Chowdhury received the licences on behalf of their companies.
The BTRC renewed the licences of the companies after pressure was exerted by the government although it had earlier insisted that the companies had to give at least second instalments of the fees and charges for the licence.
The companies had earlier paid the first instalment of the fees and charges amounting to over Tk 7,500 crore.
There was a legal battle between the mobile companies and BTRC when the companies refused to pay the second instalment before being granted licence.
‘The BTRC should act in a friendly manner with the mobile operators and settle disputes through discussion,’ said Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju in his speech.
‘It is a fact that mobile phone companies are contributing to the growth of the country enormously and we should take that into consideration,’ he added.
The chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, Hasanul Haque Inu, said the application for licence renewal proves that there are still good business prospects for foreign investors.
‘After 15 years of operation the mobile companies applied for renewal, which indicates that they are making good profit and Bangladesh is a good investment destination for foreigners,’ he said.
The four mobile operators failed to pay their second instalment of Tk 3,100 crore before the deadline of August 1.
The BTRC, caving in to the government’s pressure, extended the deadline for submission of the second instalment of fees to August 31.
The mobile companies on July 26, at a meeting with finance minister AMA Muhith, said that they are now short of funds and so cannot pay the second instalment, and would need the renewed licence to take bank loans for paying the BTRC.
BTRC’s chairman Zia Ahmed last week told the parliamentary standing committee on the telecommunication ministry that the mobile phone operators were giving a lame excuse for not giving the fees in time since they make extraordinary profits.
He said the BTRC would incur a loss of about Tk 27 crore in interest if it extends the deadline to August 31.
The tenure of the four telecom operators’ 2G licences expired on 10 November, 2011.
Before receiving the renewed licence, CityCell’s CEO Mehboob said that there might be differences of opinion between the BTRC and mobile companies. ‘But differences of opinion should not be a barrier. We hope for a new beginning after today.’
Robi’s CEO Michael Kuehner said they would continue investment for the development of the telecom sector.
Ahmed Fady of Banglalink said that they have made many innovations to make mobile phone service affordable for the common people.
He hoped that BTRC and mobile operators would work hand in hand for development of the telecom industry.
Grameenphone’s CEO Tore Johnson said that there will be new challenges in the days ahead as the BTRC is going to introduce 3G service in a short time.
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