The country's mobile operators are required to provide fifth generation (5G) services to at least 50 per cent of the country's total population within five years from the date of issuance of the licence, according to the regulator's recently-set conditions.
As the Bangladesh Telecomm-unication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is set to auction 5G spectrum in March, it issued some conditions for the mobile operators for rolling out the 5G network.
According to the draft conditions styled 'Additional conditions of cellular mobile phone services operator licence guideline for implementation of 5G in Bangladesh', the mobile service operator licensee will have to provide 5G services in all divisional headquarters along with all export processing zones (EPZs), which will cover at least 10 per cent of the total population, within 12 months from the date of issuance of the licence.
In two years of the licence issuance, the operators will have to provide 5G services to 25 per cent district headquarters, covering 20 per cent population.
Within three years of the licence issuance, they will have to take the services to 50 per cent district headquarters, covering 30 per cent population.
In four years, the operators are required to cover at least 40 per cent population in all district headquarters.
The companies are required to provide 5G services in all upazilas, which will cover at least 50 per cent of the total population of Bangladesh, within five years from the date of issuance of the licence, as per the draft conditions. It means, 50 per cent population of the country will enjoy 5G services by 2027.
In January last year, the BTRC issued another draft guideline, and later aborted it in the face of the operators' objections.
Robi Axiata chief corporate and regulatory officer Shahed Alam said setting timeline for the 5G coverage is not a right approach.
He also said they are scrutinising the draft conditions and would express official reaction later.
The government has fixed 2.3 GHz, 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz spectrum bands to launch 5G services in the country.
The BTRC has already assigned 60 MHz of spectrum from the 3.5 GHz band to the state-owned mobile operator Teletalk for launching 5G services in pilot basis on December 12.
At present, the regulator has around 585 MHz of spectrum from these three bands. The spectrum in these bands will be technology-neutral.
Bangladesh joined more than 60 other countries in rolling out 5G mobile internet connectivity under the initiatives of the Posts and Telecommunications Division and Teletalk Bangladesh Limited with the cooperation of Huawei Bangladesh Limited.
The cellular phone companies began deploying 5G worldwide in 2019. It is the planned successor to 4G networks, which provide connectivity to most cell-phones at present, according to Wikipedia. The 5G networks are predicted to have more than 1.7 billion subscribers worldwide by 2025, according to the GSM Association.