POST TIME: 13 June, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Telcos not allowed to erect new tower
BTRC prepares policy on mobile tower sharing

Telcos not allowed to erect new tower

As telecom operators do not have the right to erect new mobile phone towers, they must sell or lease their towers to companies having tower-sharing licences, according to the new tower-sharing policy.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has prepared the new policy and now sought consent from the country’s telecom operator before finalising it.

According to BTRC, it will finalise the tower-sharing guidelines soon.  

However, some telecom operators, preferring not to be named, say that the regulator has prepared the guidelines without seeking their opinion on the topic.

A senior official of a telecom operator told The Independent: “The regulator did not talk to us about the guidelines. We do not know what is in the guidelines.”

Earlier in April this year, the BTRC said that it had taken initiatives to prepare the tower-sharing guidelines on its own due to the non-cooperation of telecom operators.

A senior BTRC official recently told The Independent: “We have prepared the policy. It doesn’t contain any irrational clauses.”

“We think telecom companies were delaying unnecessarily on the tower-sharing issue. So, the commission has prepared the guidelines on its own,” he said.

The BTRC has selected four companies out of a total of eight applicants for mobile phone tower-sharing company licences.

BTRC director general (legal and licensing) AKM Shahiduzzaman said: "The commission several times asked all mobile network operators and tower companies to reach an agreement. But they failed to reach a common ground. Later, the commission sat with them to resolve the matter, but that meeting too ended without any result."

“Telecom operators are trying to impose some absurd conditions,” he added.

Finally, the BTRC gave the telecom operators one week’s time for reaching an agreement, but to no avail. "So, the commission had to take initiatives in this regard," said Shahiduzzaman.

In the last week of April, Shahiduzzaman told the telecom reporters : “We would finalise a draft agreement following the existing agreement within two to three weeks. All mobile network operators and tower companies have to comply with the guidelines after the approval of the commission.''

Shahiduzzaman said that tower companies could not run their operation without the cooperation of telecom operators. “The BTRC was compelled to intervene in the tower-sharing (handover or lease or sale) process for the disagreement among them,” he added.

On November 1 last year, the government had issued licences to four firms to run mobile phone tower operations as part of its move to separate the network business from telecom services with a view to rationalising the number of towers in the country and reduce the financial burden of mobine network operators.