POST TIME: 9 December, 2019 01:25:54 AM
Three tower companies seek fees waiver

Three tower companies seek fees waiver

Three companies that were awarded licences for tower-sharing business last year have been unable to kick off activities due to disagreement with mobile phone operators.

After failing to commence business activities, the three companies—Summit Towers Limited, Kirtonkhola Tower Bangladesh Ltd, and HighTech Consortium Ltd—have sought a fee waiver.  

The companies forwarded letters to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).

In the letters, they informed the BTRC that the service-level agreement (SLA) had not been prepared in time owing to a disagreement between mobile phone operators and the companies awarded tower-sharing licences. The companies have sought one year more to roll out their business as well as waivers of one year with respect to the annual fee, revenue sharing, and contribution to the social obligation fund.   

According to the proceedings of a BTRC meeting, the government will lose Tk. 15 crore in revenue from the three companies only in annual fees.

Clause 14.03 of the regulatory and licencing guidelines for issuing licences for tower-sharing in Bangladesh stated that the licensee and the operators must prepare an SLA for tower-sharing.

The licensee must then submit the draft SLA to the BTRC for vetting.

Last year, the BTRC awarded licences to four companies—edotco Bangladesh, Summit Towers Limited, Kirtonkhola Tower Bangladesh Ltd, and HighTech Consortium Ltd. Currently, only edotco is conducting business in the market with a no-objection certificate (NOC). The licence makes the companies responsible for building, maintaining, and renting out towers to mobile operators, internet service providers, and WiMAX operators.

On April 1, 2018, the BTRC published the tower-sharing licensing guideline. On November 1 the same year, the commission issued tower-sharing licences in favour of the four establishments.

Following its meeting, the BTRC agreed to provide a 5.5 per cent waiver on the three companies’ annual fees and revenue sharing as well as a one per cent waiver on the social welfare fund contribution. The decision will be sent to the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications, and Information Technology for approval.

As per the meeting minutes, changes in the guidelines will be required. The regulations and licensing guidelines for issuing licenses for tower-sharing in Bangladesh need to be amended in Annual License Fee and Gross Revenue Sharing issue- Clauses 19.5, 19.05 (a, b) and Rollout obligation period Issue Clause 17.1

However, the BTRC is yet to take a decision on this. The matter has been forwarded to the telecommunications ministry regarding the proposed changes in the guidelines, said BTRC sources.