4G mobile technology penetration depends on policy openness

Dhaka,  Mon,  05 December 2016
Published : 27 Nov 2016, 21:47:16

4G mobile technology penetration depends on policy openness

Regulatory rigidity drives away potential 'foreign investors'
FE Report


Technology neutrality and openness in government policies are crucial for introduction of 4G or Long Term Evolution (LTE) cellular technology in the country.

The observation came at the Bangladesh LTE Summit in the capital on Sunday.

At the summit the experts called for reduction of tax and duty on mobile handsets and mobile phone services to ensure affordable cellular services and increased investments in the telecom sector.

The summit was jointly organised by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh at a city hotel.

Currently only 4.0 per cent of the smart phones using Grameenphone network is 4G-enabled, said Grameenphone Chief Executive Officer Petter-B Furberg.

"To ensure proliferation of high speed data, it is important that people have quality handsets at affordable prices", he opined.

"However, the affordability of the service largely depends on the openness of government policies with regard to infrastructure sharing and spectrum", he added.

Chief Executive Officer of the country's second largest mobile operator Robi, Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, in his speech said although foreign investors are quite keen to invest more in the telecom sector, they are feeling discouraged due to the rigid regulatory and tax regime.

"The prevailing low tariff on voice calls and data coupled with heavy tax on mobile cellular services means that all the operators except one are not making any profit. Many of them are opting for merger for survival", he said.  

"We have been operating in this country for 17 years and yet, we have not been able to make profits", the Robi CEO said.

Director General of the Systems and Services Division of BTRC Emdad ul Bari said that affordability is a big question when it comes to data service.

'Cost reduction is very crucial for ensuring greater access to data for the people and the key thing here is infrastructure sharing", Bari said.

Banglalink Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Taimur Rahman said that coordinated efforts from the government side are needed to help such moves.

Highlighting the business viability of LTE technology, experts at the forum also showed that the introduction of LTE results in 40 per cent reduction in energy consumption and at the same time it is 30 per cent faster to market while it brings 20 per cent faster return on investment.  

Secretary General of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh TIM Nurul Kabir also spoke on the occasion.

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