Networks and Affordability: GSMA Calls for Lower Spectrum Prices in Bangladesh

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GSMA has expressed concerns on the Bangladesh Government’s plan to impose higher fees for 4G licensing ahead of the next round of spectrum auctions.

The decision would pose a significant challenge to the fulfilment of the “Digital Bangladesh” objectives and impact the future of mobile broadband services in Bangladesh.

According to the GSMA, there is instead a need to lower the burden of levies in order to facilitate the deployment of affordable voice and data services for the people of Bangladesh. Mobile operators are already currently liable for multiple taxes and fees that affect growth1.

“New research links high spectrum prices with lower quality mobile services. In short, mobile operators have less capital left for new networks and services,” said Brett Tarnutzer, Head of Spectrum, GSMA. “Reasonable spectrum fees are key to achieving the Digital Bangladesh objectives. Operators should be able to use their resources to build networks for high-quality mobile services.”

Spectrum’s greatest value is realised when used by mobile technology and devices to provide social and economic opportunity for all of Bangladesh’s citizens. In 2015 alone, the mobile industry contributed 6.2 per cent to Bangladesh’s GDP.

“The proposal of imposing incremental fees on top of the already-high fees risks deterring operators from acquiring much-needed spectrum. India, Ghana, Mozambique and Senegal all provide recent examples of countries where 4G spectrum has gone unsold,” added Tarnutzer. “This would be extremely damaging not only for the Bangladesh mobile industry, but also for the country’s economy overall, depriving citizens and businesses in Bangladesh to the full potential of high quality mobile broadband services.”

Given the high levels of infrastructure and technology service investments already committed by operators, the GSMA urges the Government to reconsider the 4G spectrum licensing price proposal in order to reflect local market realities and Government goals. Doing so is essential to facilitate the further investment and infrastructure development necessary to achieve a digital Bangladesh.

Picture Courtesy: www.GSMA.com